For social media, Facebook has the numbers

Pew Internet reports that Facebook is far and away the most popular social media site for adults.

Publicize blog to social media graphicIt’s cold and lonely on the cutting edge. But some people like to be there. Like my hip friend who sniffed that “nobody cool uses Facebook any more.” (Shades of Yogi Berra’s “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”)

Cool be damned.

The latest report from Pew Internet shows that as of September 2013, 71 percent of online adults use Facebook. Compare that to adult use of other social networking platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram), which Pew says hovers between 17 and 22 percent.

So we would like to focus our social media marketing efforts…where?

Actually, you can easily cover all the bases — Facebook and many more— by blogging your message. Then use your blogging software’s Publicize feature to send a linked excerpt of the blog post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Metrics software such as StatCounter, Google Analytics, or a built-in statistics program like the one in WordPress will tell you which social media platform brings the most click-throughs to your original content.

Just curious — did you come to this post from one of those platforms?

Social Media Survival presentation

A social media program that makes perfect sense today is likely to be significantly out of alignment in 18 months.

Last night I spoke about social media at Lee Schoentrup’s class on public relations writing at the University of Washington. This is the sixth year I’ve done the presentation. I think when I started, with blogger Peggy Sturdivant, all we talked about was…blogging.

Six years later, the list of social media tools I cover goes on, and on, and on. While in the past I’ve focused on social media strategies for particular tools, this year I revamped the presentation to focus on the need for a social media strategy that can roll with continuous change. I pointed to trends affecting social media, including:

  • Crowds (crowdsourcing, etc.)
  • Increasing use of mobile devices to create and access social media content
  • The return of organic content after the recent obsession with SEO

It’s clear to me that a social media program that makes perfect sense today is likely to be significantly out of alignment in 18 months. Who knew two years ago that companies would be getting mileage out of Facebook and Pinterest? How many companies are providing a good experience for the growing number of people who visit their blogs (or Facebook and LinkedIn pages) using a smartphone? How many are even aware of the social media consequences (good and bad) of sprinkling “Like” and “Share” buttons around their web pages?

I changed the topic of the presentation from “Social Media Success” to “Social Media Survival.” It’s a jungle out there.

Members of the UW class who would like to download a PDF of the Keynote presentation will find it here: SME – UW – 2013.

Three tools for getting a head start on the new year

tree snowThank you so much for following Writer Way in 2012. Thanks for your comments and feedback, and for telling friends who are interested in writing and online communications about the blog.

Like everyone else, I’m crazy busy (or at least I think I am). I’d like to work more efficiently in 2013, so I’m collecting a few tools I believe will help me do that. Here’s what I’ve come up with, thus far:

  • A cheat sheet for sizing images for Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter. (Courtesy of
  • Free project management software. I like the old-fashioned GANTT chart for trying to visualize and analyze who’s doing what, when, and which projects and tasks are interdependent. GanttProject lets you do that — so you can stop trying to run projects with Excel.
  • Inexpensive time-tracking, expense-tracking, and invoicing software (cloud-based). While I wouldn’t call Harvest elegant, I’d say it’s surprisingly full-featured and easy to use. For $12 a month, I get a system that lets me handle an unlimited number of clients, projects, and invoices — plus I can access the Harvest site from a browser or an iPhone/iPad app. (There’s even a free version that lets you track time and do invoicing for two projects — a great way to find out if Harvest is for you.)

Try ’em out. Let me know what you think — and what else you find that helps you get work done.

Happy Holidays! See you in 2013.

— Karen

Eww! Gross! Time for remedial social media training

Social media faceplant: Posting a picture of a cruddy sink to your company’s Facebook page.

How would you feel about seeing the photo and comment below posted to the Facebook page of a major company or organization with which you did business?

plant growing out of a sink drain
Post, and comments, from a company’s official Facebook stream. No, this company is not in the plumbing, cleaning, or gardening business.

No, this was not posted by an employee to his or her personal Facebook page. This was posted by one of the social media team to the clearly identified corporate Facebook page, from which it propagated onto the news feeds of thousands of followers.

(Note: The organization is not a plumbing repair, house cleaning, or gardening business.)

Anybody think it’s clever, or a good idea? If so, please weigh in with a defense immediately. Go ahead and tell me what a humorless, un-hip old fogey I am!

I just can’t figure out why a member of the social media team would want a few thousand customers to walk around with this image of the organization’s offices in their heads.

Really. I am trying  my damnedest to figure out some rationale for this, but the nicest comment I can think of is, well, maybe it would have looked better if the picture were an Instagram shot.

How to lose at the social media game

Neglected social media accounts can tarnish an organization’s reputation.




I’m afraid that was the sound of my head hitting my desk. I’ve been dealing with people who have ambitious social media plans. They want to blog, start Twitter streams and Facebook pages, and run a Kickstarter campaign. They want to put forums on their organizations’ websites so their followers (what followers?) can have discussions with one another.

I go to their Twitter accounts and discover that they do, indeed, have 100 followers. However, they’ve never bothered to follow most of them back.

“Oh. Is that important?” they ask me.

Perhaps it’s just as well. Five of the followers turn out to be come-ons for porn sites.

Oh, you mean I can block those?

photo of a loserOn the one hand, I have to admire people who fearlessly wade in to Twitter and Facebook and never bother to figure out what any of the settings or tools can do. On the other hand, social media is not a game where you get points just for showing up. You have to learn how to play the game, as well.

Twitter streams overrun by spammers, Facebook pages full of leaderless followers, or social media accounts of any kind neglected by their administrators speak louder than a dozen clever posts or tweets. And, unfortunately, what they say can tarnish an organization’s reputation.

The good news is that there are solutions: Hundreds of online resources on how to do social media, most of them pretty good. The bad news is that most organizations don’t seem to realize that they have a problem.

Businesses: To Facebook, or not to Facebook?

Should your company set up a Facebook presence? Yes, if a high percentage of its customers are already active Facebook users and…

I’m still on the fence about the value of a Facebook presence for businesses.

Most companies have not yet begun to harness the power of their websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts for social media and search engine optimization (SEO). They’d be crazy to set up a Facebook page where they could make a spectacle of themselves doing yet another mediocre job of social media.

That said, there are some companies for which Facebook pages are ideal:

  • A very high percentage of their customers are already active Facebook users.
  • They have more sense than to beg or buy Facebook “Likes.”
  • They have time and resources to monitor the Facebook page 24/7, to post frequent content updates, and to respond personally to comments (no generic “autoreplies,” please).
  • They have a strategic plan for what they want their Facebook presence to accomplish and what content they will roll out on Facebook to accomplish that goal.

If you’re using Facebook, Jim Belosic of ShortStack has some great tips for writing Facebook posts with good calls to action. These tips also work well for Twitter.


How they think at Facebook

Get an inside look at what the Facebook Growth Team thinks about when they make decisions about the site’s user experience.

It seems there’s always someone whining about a change in the Facebook interface or a new way that the company uses people’s information. Sometimes I agree with the whining; sometimes I don’t.

But I’m always aware that the changes at Facebook are made with the company’s bottom line, not the users’ preferences, as the first priority.

For an inside look at what the Facebook Growth Team thinks about when they make huge decisions about the site’s user experience, take a look at this discussion on (Thank you to the folks at SEOMoz for pointing me to the discussion, which made their “Top Ten” list of June’s most critical SEO and online marketing news.)


Why I avoid Google+

Google+ won’t let you integrate multiple Google mail accounts into one Google+ identity, and that makes using Google+ a frustrating time suck.

Friend? See you on Facebook.

Colleague? Talk with you over on LinkedIn!

Neighbor? Acquaintance? Let’s have some fun on Twitter.

Fellow traveler? I’ll follow you on FourSquare.

But I just got an email notifying me that someone I like added has me on Google+. This fills me with dread. Why? Follow me on my journey down the surrealistic rabbit hole of Google+.

First, I click the link “Add to circles” in the email so I can add my friend. It takes me to Google+, which invites me to join.

Interesting, because I already belong to Google+. (Under two Google email identities, but more on that later.)

Unfortunately, sometime in the past few days I used a third Google email address (I have several) and now Google considers me logged in as that third identity, which does not belong to Google+ and is never going to.

I now have to log out of Google and log back in — which is requires me to refer back to the original email from my friend to see which identity she has “added” me under.

Yes, I know that Google has a system that lets you switch identities without logging out and logging in — but that “switch” only works for certain Google online apps and not for others. I use several, and can never keep straight which ones let me switch — until I try switching and a few screens later find that I am still stuck in the original unswitched identity.

So I log out and log in.

Hmmm. There is now no sign of my friend’s invitation, but I do see my Google+ stream (or ripple, or whatever they call it). There are a few posts from people I’m interested in, and several posts by some guy who just can’t shut up.

By now, I’m completely derailed. I go back to the email and tell my friend how she can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Problem solved.

Sorry, Google+. Your failure to let me integrate multiple Google mail accounts into one Google+ identity makes visiting your system a frustrating time suck — and even the literate content my friends post there won’t make it worth the trouble.

What’s next for tech blogging?

Look for YouTube channels to replace blogs, and for successful bloggers to offer how-tos and paid content (my contribution to the predictions for tech blogging started by Jeremiah Owyang).

In End of an Era: The Golden Age of Tech Blogging is Over, Jeremiah Owyang pinpoints the four trends that signal a shift in blogs that cover electronics technology and the tech industry:

  • Indie tech blogs acquired by corporate media
  • Key tech bloggers exiting from major tech blogging sites
  • Audiences wooed away by channels with shorter, faster, messages: Twitter, Facebook, Google+
  • Fewer tech bloggers making a living via blogging alone

My own predictions for 2012:

  • Corporate-owned tech blogs will increasingly adopt the tools of business blogging (better keywording and other SEO elements).
  • It will be increasingly difficult for new tech blogs, even those by well-known individuals, to gain traction — especially if they focus on offering opinions rather than tools or information.
  • Some new influencers will rise to the top using YouTube channels (in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter) rather than blogs. (Check out what Chris Pirillo has been up to recently.)
  • Successful blogs will feature online education (how-tos), including video; they may offer click-throughs to inexpensive ($1 – 5) paid content modules — from online quizzes to ebooks — that expand on the blog posts.

The cross-training approach to social media marketing

Your forays into social media should be designed to enhance rather than undermine your overall performance.

I’m hearing from a lot of businesses that don’t really want to use Twitter, Facebook communities, blogging, SEO and all the shiny new online social media tools for marketing, but feel that they must take the plunge to “keep up.” A few of these folks are marketing newbies, but most have solid, successful backgrounds in traditional marketing programs.

Solid. Successful.

Let’s look at it this way: If you were a standout basketball or soccer player, would you suddenly want to devote all your energies to learning extreme mountain climbing? Not only is it the latest fad, but, because it is a fad, the mountains are now crowded with other newbies. They’re slowing down the paths and often plummeting to bad endings in crevasses. The sherpas are now charging premium prices to guide you (and schlep your expensive stuff) up the slopes.

Instead of putting all your energy into trying to catch up with the current fad, take the cross-training approach. Get into it strategically and make sure what you do is strongly integrated with and complements your current exercise (or marketing) program. In other words, what you do online should mesh with your existing, successful, use of brochures, ads, trade shows, signage, white papers, and other marketing channels. (This not only conserves your resources, it will make sense to your customer base.)

Consider this: If your competitors are sweating their way up the slopes of online marketing like lemmings, chance are they aren’t paying as much attention as they should to traditional marketing channels. What areas of opportunity are they now leaving wide open for you to take advantage of?

This is a great time to take a look at your users, buyers, and decision makers. It may be the time to do more speaking at conferences, take out a series of eye-catching magazine ads, sponsor events, ramp up sales calls, or use good old email to offer prospects a nice, substantive white paper. The point, after all, is to show customers that you do more for them and do it better (rather than you do pretty much the same thing as the other guys). Plus, those real-world activities will give you plenty to blog or tweet about as you ease your way into social media.

You can’t afford to ignore the impact of online marketing tools — but, like cross training, your forays into social media should be designed to enhance rather than undermine your overall performance.

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