Social Media Networks

Build a better understanding of social media networks and the effects they have on/within the workplace

Contributor Review: Meghan

As our project begins to draw to a close, each of our contributors will be taking an opportunity to review the the major points and topics they have covered. I will begin!

In my first post, Monitoring, Interpreting, and Integrating the Complexities of Social Media, I addressed the challenges that social media poses to businesses and their leaders.  I detailed the three different types of social media activity that make understanding and utilizing social media complex and difficult. In an age of ever-changing platforms and social media tools, broad and constant monitoring, like the real-time dashboard employed by PepsiCo, is necessary to fully comprehend a business’ presence in social media.  Such a monitoring system allows PepsiCo to analyze consumer sentiment, pinpoint conversations, and collect direct feedback that is incorporated into the brand by guiding the company’s decision making.

On Friday April 5th, I posted our first weekly recap, wrapping up week one of blogging!

Next, I explored the competitive advantages provided by internal social media use in the post, Internal Social Media: Embracing the Benefits. Despite being frowned upon by many, social media use as an internal communication tool has the potential to facilitate productivity and cooperative efforts. Today’s technologies allow for these digital platforms to enable simultaneous communication and teamwork from anywhere in the world. Organizational leaders have a valuable opportunity to engage their employees, foster collaboration and knowledge sharing, and appeal to the growing available workforce of recent college graduates: members of the tech savvy Generation Y.

On Friday April 19th, I posted our third weekly recap, wrapping up week three of blogging!

Most recently I published a post titled, Crowd Sourced Funding Made Possible Through Social Media Platforms.  In this post, I highlighted a unique funding opportunity that social media has made possible.  Crowd sourced funding websites provide a platform where individual users can raise funds to realize their vision of innovation. Various sites cater to the different financial needs of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and creators alike as they all flock to pitch their project to online investors. All of these   platforms empower independent individuals to create and innovate by making these projects accessible to small time investors. In an age of big business and corporate agendas, these crowdfunding sites give individuals the power to see their own visions realized on their own terms.

In Closure…

In all, this project has given me a real opportunity to try my hand at blogging. I have enjoyed exploring and learning about a versatile and rapidly changing format for professional communication.  The subject, Social Media Networking, provided us a new and broad field to research. I really enjoyed learning about the ways that many organizations are embracing and incorporating social media into operations.

Personally, I felt like the whole experience was extremely relevant as a business student preparing to graduate college, and I look forward to blogging endeavors in my future in order to continue to utilize the skills I have learned here. Hopefully you have found my contributions to be useful and informative.  Thanks for reading!

 

– Meghan

 

Reviewing Our Week

“Feeling Lonely in Life and at Work? SMNs May Be to Blame”- MONDAY, APRIL 22nd by Hannah

On Monday, Hannah brought into light the instance of social media networks actually working against the intended purpose of bringing people closer together with communication by making people more lonely instead. She references an article set out by Forbes which lists technology as one of they key players in making us feel more distant from others as we replace face-to-face contact with virtual communication. Has our use of technology become excessive? Read Hannah’s post here.

“Crowd Sourced Funding Made Possible Through Social Media Platforms”- TUESDAY, APRIL 23rd by Meghan

Taking a different route, on Tuesday Meghan discussed a facet of social media networking that is often overlooked. Crowd sourced funding has made it possible for people all over the world to pitch their ideas to investors via the internet, and multiple websites have taken advantage of this. Meghan goes into specific examples of these websites to show us how social media have allowed people to fund their projects. Read Meghan’s post here.

“Social Media vs. Time”- WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24th by Kelly

On Wednesday, Kelly answered the question of what time it is best to post content to social media networks to ensure the most user views. Utilizing a highly detailed PiktoChart, she displays the percentage of the population per time zone to help business owners take differences into account via time. She then goes over specified data relating to popular social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to show what time is best to share information with others. Read Kelly’s post here.

“Making the World a Better Place Through Tweets”- THURSDAY, APRIL 25th by LaRae

Thursday’s post by LaRae delves into the uses of social media for nonprofit organizations and other charitable causes. Suggesting Facebook and Twitter as two social media networks that could aid philanthropic pursuits, LaRae suggests the value of social media isn’t entirely in casual communication. Rather, these sites have the potential to create a positive impact in our world. Read LaRae’s post here.

“Groupon’s Philanthropic Initiative”- FRIDAY, APRIL 26th by Taylor

On Friday, Taylor discussed how social media has the opportunity to create positive change in our world with its ability to foster charitable donations. Groupon, an online deal website, has taken advantage of its popularity to delve into multiple philanthropic campaigns by pairing with other companies who are willing to match user donations. Taylor goes into multiple examples of Groupon’s efforts to showcase how social media has the power of connecting people with others to reach goals that would otherwise be impossible. Read Taylor’s post here.

Groupon’s Philanthropic Initiative

Many charities have realized the value of social media in their potential for constructing relationships with investors and the general public. Social media mediums provide effective opportunities for campaigning through raising awareness of causes, engaging support and lobbying for positive change. One of the most necessary factors for creating change is funding, and social media is an effective way to raise the fiscal means needed for charities. People become committed to fundraisers if they find themselves emotionally connected, and social media gives the chance to communicate with supporters to construct an emotional bond.

Groupon, a popular online group-discount site, features deals for local and national companies daily. Since their launch in November of 2008, Groupon has become the largest group-buying and daily-deal website with over 41 million active customers. However, the company doesn’t solely offer deals on popular activities and restaurants. Groupon has ventured into the realm of social change with its various philanthropic campaigns.

Groupon’s first program intended to create a positive impact on the world was titled G-Team. The program was founded after combining the two factors that originally created the site: group action and the online fundraising platform called The Point. Utilizing G-Team, Groupon followers could create fundraisers and campaigns using the site’s crowd sourcing model. One successful charitable fundraising campaign by G-Team raised $1000 for a local bike cooperative to fix 100 broken bikes that were donated to disadvantaged youths. Employing the idea that a social media site’s popularity can help raise more money for nonprofits, G-Team encouraged Groupon users to donate money to aid selected charities. The G-Team project was a success, so on Earth Day 2012 G-Team relaunched as Groupon Grassroots.

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Groupon Grassroots is the nonprofit section of Groupon described as “a new way to discover local causes, rally together, and lend a helping hand.” Grassroots operates with three main principles: helping people find a cause, advancing collective action through an online community, and supporting local projects and initiatives. Summarizing these principles, the Grassroots Mission statement says that “Groupon Grassroots activates citizenship and fosters neighborhood advancement through the world’s commerce operating system.” They do so by showcasing a variety of community projects people can support, utilizing collective action to power the campaign they feature by connecting supporters to accomplish goals, and offering the ability to support projects that will directly affect personal communities. Local nonprofits are encouraged to apply online with specific projects or campaigns which Groupon Grassroots then goes through to create effective campaigns.

Some of their featured campaigns include:

  • May 2010’s fundraiser teaming up with DonorsChoose.org. By becoming Groupon’s featured daily deal, DonorsChoose.org garnered close to 1,500 donations. This raised over $162,000 dollars in support of classrooms in need.
  • Pepsi matched up to $250,000 in donations for Feeding America, a network of food banks and distribution agencies that provide nutritious meals to Americans struggling with hunger. This campaign helped the organization provide 11,897 families of four with two weeks worth of food.
  • Chiquita Banana matched up to $25,000 in donations for The Cure Starts Now, an organization that supports efforts to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer through expansive fundraising and awareness efforts alongside providing services for those who have the condition. The foundation gave Monkey in My Chair kits to 731 pediatric cancer patients as a result.
  • The Chicago Community Trust matched all donations for The Chicago Community Trust’s Unity Challenge 2011, a campaign launched in December 2008 that has helped to deliver more than 3.4 million pounds of food to needy families in Chicago. The two-day Groupon offer brought in $2,340 from 180 donors for the Chicago Community Trust’s efforts to combat hunger, and those donations were watched by the trust to grant $4,860 to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

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I personally participated in Groupon’s Big Dogs Huge Paws offer by donating $10 to Big Dogs Huge Paws, an organization that provides food for dogs living in foster homes as they prepare for adoption. Since the Grassroots campaign raised $440, the organization provided 10 giant-breed dogs in foster care with food for one month and another dog with food for a month.

The incredible reach of social media in regards to positive change can effectively be seen through Groupon’s philanthropic campaigns. In total, 674 campaigns since Groupon’s launch of G-Team in July 2010 have raised more than $3-million from about 100,000 supporters. Overall, Groupon campaigns have the ability to connect followers with enough people to accomplish goals that would seem insurmountable alone.

 

Further Reading:

“Group Buying for Social Good: 7 Sites Using Daily Deals to Give Back” by Frank Barry

“Groupon IPO to Value Deal Site at $15 Billion The Hottest Start-Up Around Started as a Do-Gooding Site” by Alex Goldmark

 

Making the World a Better Place Through Tweets

Many business professionals strongly agree that social media networks are a great marketing for all types of businesses. Whether a local restaurant uses Facebook to share a coupon for a new dessert or a large coffee chain sends out a Tweet about a new line of drinks for the fall season, both businesses are sure to spread their message to an extremely large and engaged audience through the social media networks. However, many individuals and groups often overlook the potential sites like Facebook and Twitter have for non profit organizations. Similar to traditional businesses, there are numerous strategies non profit groups can use to help grow and support their cause or mission through Facebook and Twitter.

Like several previous posts have mentioned, Facebook is the most widely used social media site in the entire world. People love to share their pictures and what’s important to them, like causes they support or stories that touched their hearts. Therefore, there is no better place for non-profits to spread their message. In order to find people that will be sympathetic to an organization’s cause, there are numerous techniques these companies can use to connect with these individuals. Users should use their cover photo to “sum up the cause.” Facebook is an extremely visual site, and the cover photo is the first thing individuals’ see, therefore, making a powerful first impression can help draw in potential supporters for the organization. Non profits should also consider including legislation that affects the organization. This will help keep members up to date on the issues that they care about, members may also be moved to help support or defeat legislation to help further the non profit’s mission. Users should also set up an easy way for members to donate on their Facebook page. Organization can either post a link where followers can donate or organizations may want to use the “social campaigns” or “create fundraisers” tool that Facebook offers. Either way, the social media site is a great way to raise funds because of the site’s large and diverse network. Facebook is a powerful marketing tool for non-profits, helping groups everywhere gain supporters, volunteers, and raise funds.

Although Twitter may not be as extensive or detailed as Facebook, the social networking site is still a highly successful marketing tool that non profit groups can  take advantage of. To get the best results, there are several techniques non-profits can use to help gain support for their mission. Twitter users should be sure to stick to Tweet routine; this will keep followers interested and attached to the cause. Organizations should also consider including links that pertain to their cause in their Tweets. Social media experts say that Tweets that contain URL’s are three times more likely to be retweeted, meaning more potential followers and supports for the group. Users should also use hashtags to join relevant conversations and trending topics that involve their cause. This will help find other individuals and groups that share the same values or goals the organization has, thus helping further the group’s success. Non profits who use Twitter regularly and wisely will see similar benefits to using Facebook, like a higher number of supporters, volunteers, and funds.

Non profits can generate valuable followers and resources by participating in social media. By utilizing the above suggestions for Facebook and Twitter, organization’s should be able to take steps closer to completing their mission. Social media network’s are more than just a place for friends to communicate or for businesses’ to post coupons, theses sites have the potential to change lives and make the world a better place.

Related Articles

See more tips on how non-profits can use Facebook to get their mission across

See more ideas on how Twitter can assist non-profits

Social Media vs. Time

Have you ever wondered as a social media marketer, what time is the best time to post new content on your social media site in order to get the most viewer? This is a main factor that we don’t pay attention to enough.

Social Media vs. Time


						
					

Crowd Sourced Funding Made Possible Through Social Media Platforms

Many of our posts here on the Social Media Networking blog have been about the many established businesses and organizations utilizing social media platforms to enhance their relationship with consumers and optimize internal communications among employees.  This post will be slightly different, focusing on the opportunity that social media can provide as a platform for crowd sourced funding.

The advent of social networking has far exceeded the basic posting, messaging, or file sharing. Crowd sourced funding websites provide a platform where individual users can raise funds to realize their vision of innovation. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and creators alike all flock to pitch their project to online investors via the web.

Some websites serve to raise charitable funds for both informal and well organized causes. Razoo is a platform for officially recognized nonprofit organizations to raise money. Individual users can donate as well as organize fundraisers for their favorite charities.  Kiva, on the other hand, functions slightly differently. This non-profit organization serves to connect global lenders and borrowers in an effort to alleviate poverty. Lenders can loan as little as $25 to borrowers from around the world providing “fair access to affordable capital to improve their own lives.”

Indiegogo is unique in that it allows users to raise money for anything and everything. The site is one of the leading platforms for international crowdfunding platforms. It originated within the independent film industry and grew from the belief that “anyone, anywhere who is passionate and works hard should be able to raise money.”

Websites like Kickstarter and Pozible allow users to demonstrate their ideas in detail to investors by sharing their concept’s story and uploading photos and videos. This also enables small individual investors to have access to the same early stage opportunity to invest early on in the life of an idea or start-up.  My cousin and his wife have used Kickstarter to fund multiple ventures in graphic design. Most recently their campaign to fund Urban Punk, a line of unique apparel, playing cards, and other gifts, has raised over $17,000 and has some 615 backers and counting!

Other platforms are geared toward a more specified field. Rock the Post is a site that promises well vetted investments and targets more serious investors by upholding a minimum investment of $1,000 :

FundaGeek provides a place for those with a technical innovation and research to pitch ideas and find financial backers willing to pledge support. On Petridish.org, renowned and often times famous scientists and researchers are hand selected to showcase their projects that need funding. This unique opportunity allows the public to make possible important discoveries and research. In turn supporters get exclusive access to new findings, acknowledgement in publications, field souvenirs, and other unparalleled opportunities.


Crowd Sourced Funding via Social MediaOriginal Visual Aid Created by Meghan McCrory using Wordle

 

All of these   platforms empower independent individuals to create and innovate by making these projects accessible to small time investors. In an age of big business and corporate agendas, these crowdfunding sites give individuals the power to see their own visions realized on their own terms.

Feeling Lonely in Life and at Work? SMNs May Be to Blame…

How we connect and who we’re connected with is a huge part of society these days. Reconnecting with people and building relationships is key and so important (for many things)! Not only in every day life, but in the workplace as well. People are connected online and on SMNs now more than ever but with that they’re also becoming lonely. SMNs are for socializing, chatting, finding old friends, stalking ex’s, everything that makes us happy, right? WRONG. Technology and SMNs are great for all of the things I listed above. But, it turns out that while people are able to keep in touch with long distance friends more easily, they’re now feeling more distant than ever. Oh the irony.

An article from Forbes discusses how technology is making society lonely. This is what I found most interesting…the article states, “surprisingly, those who report feeling most alone, are those you’d expect it from least: young people under 35, who are the most prolific social networkers of all.” So this addiction that we’re all developing (I say “we’re” because I too am addicted) may be hurting us? Individuals are becoming to feel increasing alone, and for those of you who work on computers all day, every day the feeling of “alone” may be hitting you even harder. The sad and scary thing is, technology and SMNs are hard to escape especially considering that they’re all around us. Digital communication has, in a sense, taken over face-to-face communication. Therefore, there’s a lack of personal contact and in my opinion, that may be a reason for why people are feeling so lonely.

Yes, SMNs are a convenient tool and necessary in today’s society but at what risk? If we’re already seeing bad signs, what’s in store for the future? No face-to-face contact… ever? Here’s my thinking: Now that you’ve learned this information, take a look at your SMNs/technology use. Is it excessive? Do you feel alone and lonely in every day life or even at work? If so, place restrictions on your use! Make an effort to talk to people in person more and FB chat less. Get up at work and walk around to see people, don’t email them (as easy as it may be). A little seperation from SMNs and technology won’t hurt us, right? But then again as I’m writing this I’m on Facebook, so it may not be as easy as it seems. It’s worth a try though.

Watch this clip…

Read more on this topic and 7 strategies for building a real social network at the following:

1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2012/10/23/is-technology-making-you-lonely-7-strategies-for-building-a-real-social-network/

This Week in Review…

“Informational Post” & Social Media Infographic – MONDAY, APRIL 15th by Kelly

Kelly brings us an interesting look at the facts about social media use and business in her detailed visual. The piece examines the relationship between brands and users and vice versa. Click here to see her original infographic.

“Dell Hell” & How Social Media Influences Business Infographic – TUESDAY, APRIL 16th by Taylor

While social media networks provide companies with the opportunity for enhanced marketing through acquisition of further public interaction with their specific brand, the increased level of communication between businesses and consumers allow the potential for problems to arise. The reputation of a business can be altered negatively by the reaching influence of social media as was the case in the 2005 “Dell Hell” episode. Taylor describes the incident regarding the blogging realm as a social media outlet, and goes on to discuss how the issue was resolved with social media’s influence in mind. Click here to check out her post.

“Targeting Customers Online Through SMNs, It’s a Good Idea!” & a Visual Aid – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17th by Hannah

With so many people using social media networking websites like Facebook, it’s no wonder businesses are beginning to use the insight they gain from the user profiles and activity to target customers. Hannah makes it look like a no brainer for businesses to take advantage of access to this data in blog post. Click here to check out her post.

“Is Facebook Right for Small Businesses?” & Local Business Social Media Chart  – THURSDAY, APR 18th by LaRae

Many mega corporations have hopped on board and established social media accounts, campaigns, and advertisements to help build their brand. But is this type of plan right for a small business? LaRae demonstrates how some of the site’s free features and unique accessibility can make managing and efficiently operating the accounts a viable option for many small businesses today. Included in the post is an original chart detailing the percentage of local businesses that use specific social media sites for marketing. Click here to check out her post.

Is Facebook Right for Small Businesses?

Some believe advertising and promoting goods ad services through social media is a waste of time and money, however, small businesses that opt out of all activities on Facebook may be missing out on valuable opportunities. Facebook has a tireless commitment to business owners, making the network a worthwhile and trustworthy advertising partner. The social networking site also has several components that cannot be replicated on any other medium. Business professionals continue to debate the usefulness of social media to small businesses, but I believe Facebook is a truly unique and valuable tool that companies should strongly consider.

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook vows that the site will not stop until all small businesses are using the site to grow their business. As seen in the figure below, numerous small businesses are already using the site, greatly beating out other social media competitors.  Sandberg believes small businesses actually have an advantage over large corporations, because unlike those companies, mom and pop shops can create a profile and use many of the site’s tools for free. Users can upload photos, news items, and even coupons to their wall without costing the business owner a cent. Small businesses too busy to constantly be updating and reposting? Don’t worry! Facebook thought of a solution for that. Users can schedule posts to be published on a later date, leaving the individual more time to focus on other tasks. Companies also have the option of installing an app on the page for free, which is a great way to further engage with the businesses’ current and prospective consumer base. Meanwhile, the user can do all of this right from their smartphone at home, at the gym, or even while walking the dog!

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The social media site is unique in the way Facebook is able to engage the consumeras well turn information and news into a viral like campaign. Unlike any other kind of advertising tool, the site allows companies to have a conversation with their consumers. People can leave comments, share ideas, or even just ask a question on the business’s wall. Then, the owner can almost immediately reply from wherever Facebook is available, whether that be on a computer, smart phone, or tablet. Companies can also engage their audience by posting fun trivia questions, games, or posting polls on what people’s favorite dessert is. The more people interact with the page or share their experiences with the company’s wall, the more likely friends will see the page and do the same; thus creating a chain reaction which has the potential to reach thousands. Businesses cannot achieve this level of marketing through traditional online or newspaper ads, making the site a worthwhile marketing tool.

With Facebook’s promising outlook on working with small businesses, all the free features, and a new, exciting way to reach audiences, small businesses would only be hindering their own success by not using the site. Companies need to get involved with social media to help build stronger relationships with their consumers as well as help seek out and capture new consumers. By being an active member on social media, companies will quickly begin reaping the benefits of the Facebook phenomenon.

Further Readings

See what else Sheryl Sandberg has planned for small businesses. 

Find out what Facebook suggests to help businesses engage their audience. 

Targeting Customers Online Through SMNs, It’s a Good Idea!

Here’s a post for all you business folks, whether you’re looking to start a business or build more clients. SMNs are commonly used for socializing, reconnecting with friends, dating, the works, right? We all know that, but have you ever considered SMNs to be used as a way to target and/or engage customers or even potential ones? It’s well-known that a majority of society is addicted to Social Media. As bad as that sounds it’s true. People are constantly attached to their personal devices, checking their Facebook’s, text messaging. It’s become more than a craze, it’s now a way of life for millions.

According to an article in Forbes Magazine, Social Media is a way to keep your customers happy. Which considering what I just said above, that argument makes complete sense. As a business owner you want find ways to not only gain customers but to identify with them. You shouldn’t want to just cast a line out and hope to get as many bites a possible when it comes to gaining customers. Rather, focus on what the customer would want and consider what they’re thinking. Get inside the mind of the customer, sounds weird but just think about the following: Everyone is constantly busy these days, whether you’re a single mom, full-time employee, working student, stay at home dad, we all have a million things on our plates each and every week. So in the midst of all of the chaos, we’re on SMNs in between daily activities and plans. Some may have more time than others but in reality a majority of people are on their phones for one reason or another.

A majority of the things that people used to do offline they’re now doing online. I made a little illustration/pie chart to portray this. Here is what my pre-teen and teen years looked like (very limited use of Internet and SMNs, though few were invented at the time.)

HannahsChart

Now, think about the section that was devoted to Internet, etc. in my teen years and times it by 5 to get a current day representation. I no longer do all the things I used to because of the advancements in technology and the introduction of SMNs.

With that being said, how could a business owner NOT want to be on SMNs to reach and connect with customers? It’s so crucial to grow visibility, get your name out there, inform people about your company whether it’s through a Twitter, Facebook, etc. Back to identifying with the customer… this is a very important point from in article on Yahoo.com as well, “Take a half an hour or so not as the business owner but as a target customer and think about what product/service you would want.” Taking the time to get to know your target audience and customers will truly pay off. Not only that, building SMNs and maintaining them daily will fully allow for individuals to get to know your company. The Internet is a very powerful tool, one that is constantly evolving.

As a business owner, stay up to date on the latest things in the SMN world, because quite frankly almost everyone around you already is.

Read more at the following sources:

1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/microsoftdynamics/2013/03/15/making-your-customers-happy-through-social-media/

2. http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/target-customers-using-social-media-grow-visibility-113544913.html

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