As you head into the New Year (and make further strides in your social media marketing programs), these three key trends can help set your direction.
- Google+ Is a Must (So Stop Fighting It). A recent Wall Street Journal post says it all, "There's No Avoiding Google+." Whether you like it or not, the search engine giant is making it difficult for you to keep ignoring their growing social network. Why does this tool make sense for your brand? For starters, Google+ integration now extends to many Google properties, such as YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, and Search. For Blogger bloggers, you now have an option to share your posts on your Google+ page with one easy click, among other features. While it might be difficult to fit Google+ into your daily routine, it's a good idea to start doing so in 2013.
"There are three reasons to get on Google+," Guy Kawasaki explains to me in an email. The well-known author of many business books, including What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, writes "First, your activity on Google+ increases the likelihood of people finding your business via search. Second, Hangouts on Air is an excellent way to economically reach large audiences via video. Third, the recent addition of Communities enables you to easily organize groups of people based on shared passions. What's not to love?"
- You Need to Do Your Privacy Homework. Last year we saw the start of what is bound to continue in 2013: your personal data is a delicious way to attract advertisers. Whether it's Instagram toying with the legal ownership of your images or Foursquare forcing you to display your full name, it's getting harder to manage your own online privacy without doing your homework. There are two takeaways here. If you're an end user, there are tools out there to check up on your privacy settings on a regular basis. For example, PrivacyFix is an easy way to see what type of information you're putting out to the public. In terms of data ownership, reading terms of service is a smart, but often daunting way to know your rights. Another option is to follow some of the top social media blogs, such as Mashable, to stay up-to-date on social network policy changes. For business, privacy blunders are not tolerated well online, (e.g., one area where companies tend to falter is when they're launching apps and dip into address books and other places where they shouldn't be). There is no better way to get in hot water in the digital space than to lose the trust of your audience.
- Near Round-the-Clock Monitoring Is a Reality. It's becoming increasingly important to know what your community is saying during most hours of the day. For years now there have been examples of big brands ducking out of the digital world for days at a time, which is often detrimental to their reputation when a customer's complaint goes viral. Most recently, a number of retail businesses promoted flash sales during Hurricane Sandy. If any one of these businesses were closely watching conversations in the digital space, they would have quickly pulled these specials, recognizing that their potential customers were deeply offended at such questionable timing, and sharing their disappointment with the online world. Google "online reputation-monitoring services" to learn more about services that follow what's said about you and your company online. They typically report on your business ratings and reviews, and mentions of your name on social media and local news sites.
A video personality and blogger on FastCompany.com, and the emcee of Fast Company’s popular Innovation Uncensored event, Amber Mac is truly a voice of the Fast Company brand. In addition to her work with Fast Company, she is a bestselling author, tech, social media, and small business expert, TV and web video host, speaker, strategist, and entrepreneur.
[Image: Flickr user C.C. Chapman]