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The 10 Stages of Social Media Integration in Business

Friday, April 16th, 2010

An overnight success ten plus years in the making, Social Media is as transformative as it is evolutionary. With every day that passes, we are presented with increasing reports that showcase the impact of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs within small and large businesses alike. As a result, we can now visualize the state of adoption, understanding, and implementation in different business ecosystems. What we realize as a result, is that individual examples vary based on the assorted stages of aptitude and proficiency in Social Media within each company.

In writing the next book, I interviewed many executives and marketing and service professionals as well as reviewed piles of case studies. I noticed that the path towards new media enlightenment was directed by the conditions of their respective market places and the consumers who define them. Furthermore, the timetable for integration and permeation was dictated by the politics and support system within the business infrastructure.

A pattern became very obvious. There are at least ten stages of Social Media adoption, strategy, and execution that determine their place in the attention economy of today and tomorrow.

The Evolution of a Corporate Renaissance 2009 – 2010

2010 is designated as the year Social Media proliferates mainstream businesses. Indeed this year will showcase the transformation of business acumen while also shifting the culture and the communication that embraces an inward and outward flow for listening, interacting, learning, and adapting.

Social Media Marketing is exhilarating to behold as it evolves “media” from a broadcast platform to a sophisticated network of connections and rewarding engagement. We learn that through participation, we ultimately eradicate the myths that initially fueled skeptics and prevented early experimentation. The perceived loss of control was in actuality, the ability to realize public sentiment and the gatekeepers who could help us actively steer perception. It is a chance to actually gain control rather than simply possessing the illusion of it.

As 2009 raced to an end, Social Media marketers realized that listening to the proverbial conversation offered very little in terms of influence. In fact, it was the listening that would eventually set the stage for intelligent participation.

It was the realization that listening would only engender empathy. But, in order to truly shape and guide market sentiment and hopefully one day empower advocacy and a new workflow, a supporting infrastructure would require construction.

We are only as relevant as our ability to not only realize the state of affairs, but also have the prowess necessary to define and also adapt along with it.

The next stage of Social Media Marketing will mature from one of listening and unguided participation to one of strategic observation, analysis and informed engagement. It is how we can shift from a state of awareness to one of intelligence, setting the stage for relevance and affinity. It is a new age of “unmarketing” inspired by purpose and vision.

As Social Media evolves, behavior and intention modifies, mirroring the depth of learning and confidence that develops with experience. In New Media, we are always learning and as such, we are forever in pursuit of the next stage.

The 10 Stages of New Media Evolution

Stage 1 – Observe and Report

This is the entry point for businesses to better understand the market behavior and interaction within their marketplaces. These initial tasks materialize the current state of affairs that defines share of voice and the potential for new opportunities to compete for attention.

Listening: The employment of listening devices such as Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Radian6, and PR Newswire’s Social Media Metrics to track conversations and instances associated with key words.

Reporting: Capturing related conversations tied to commentary into a report prepared for executives and managers. This early form of reporting is merely designed to provide decision makers with the information to demonstrate the need for continued exploration into social media and its potential impact on business.

Stage 2 – Setting the Stage + Dress Rehearsal

Upon amassing an initial understanding of conversational dynamics and stature, businesses will build the framework that sets the stage for social media broadcasting and participation. This is an interesting phase as it, in many cases, actually joins Stage 1 as a more sweeping first step. Instead of researching current activity to answer an important question as to why engage in social media at all and as such, how should we engage, many businesses create accounts across multiple social networks and unfortunately publish content without a plan or purpose.

However, those businesses that conduct research will find a rewarding array of options and opportunities of which to analyze and target.

Presence: The creation of official presences across one or more social networks, usually Twitter and possibly Facebook (Fan Pages), YouTube, and Flickr. This stage is also reflective of initial experimentation through activity, with or without the following analysis. But, this is less about strategic engagement in this early stage, resembling either chatter or the traditional broadcasting of messages.

Analysis: Reviewing activity for frequency (the rate of mentions), the state of sentiment allocation, traffic, as well as the size of connections (friends, followers, fans), etc., provides managers with a limited glimpse into the effects of presence and participation.

Stage 3 – Socializing Media

The next stage in the evolution of a new media business is the proverbial step towards “joining the conversation.”

As companies take the stage, they will eventually pay attention to the reaction of the audience in order to respond and improve content, define future engagements, and humanize communication.

Conversation: Representative of an early form of participation, this stage usually evokes reactive engagement based on the nature of existing dialogue or mentions and also incorporates the proactive broadcasting of activity, events and announcements.

Rapid Response: Listening for potentially heated, viral, and emotional activity in order to extinguish a potential crisis or possibly to fan a flame of positive support.

Metrics: The documentation of the aforementioned activity in order to demonstrate momentum in a particular direction – usually captured in the form of friends, fans, followers, conversations, sentiment, mentions, traffic, and reach.

Stage 4 – Finding a Voice and a Sense of Purpose

This is a powerful milestone in the maturation of new media and business. By not only listening, but hearing and observing the responses and mannerisms of those who define our markets, we can surface pain points, source ideas, foster innovation, earn inspiration, learn, and feel a little empathy in order to integrate a sense of purpose into our socialized media programs. We open the door to new possibilities.

Research: Reviewing activity for not only sentiment allocation, but to embrace negative and also neutral commentary to surface and observe trends in responses and ultimately behavior. This allows for a poignant understanding of where to concentrate activity, at what level, and with what voice across marketing, sales, service, and PR.

Strategic Visibility: Introducing relevance and focus, we realize that we don’t have to be everywhere in order to create presence, just in the places where our presence is missed or unfelt. Understanding that the Social Web is far more extensive than Twitter, blogs, and Facebook, brand managers search across the entire Web using listening services or the methodologies rife within the Conversation Prism to locate where influential dialogue transpires.

Relevance: The realization that “chatter” or aimless broadcasting is not as effective as strategic communications and engagement. This stage reflects the exploration of goals, objectives and the exploration and implementation of value. As we learn that interaction is based on exchange and the exchange is measured by loyalty and trust, our interaction is thus defined by benefits and significance.

Stage 5 – Putting Words into Action

Actions speak louder than words and therefore we are committed to putting our words into action. While we opened the door to the emotions that awoke social consciousness, they eventually permeate the spirit of the company and inspire us to set into motion a change in everything we do and say.

Empathy: Social media personifies those with something to say, allowing us to see who it is we’re hoping to reach as well as what motivates them. Listening and observing is not enough. The ability to truly understand someone, their challenges, filters, objectives, options, and experiences allows us to truly become the people with whom we hope to connect.

Purpose: The shift from response to strategic communications, purpose, powered by empathy and resolution, facilitates meaningful and mutually beneficial interaction. Affinity requires an emotional connection, a sense of purpose if you will. It is in this stage that we truly visualize the motivation necessary to captivate one’s attention. In order to hold it, we have to give them something to believe in, something that moves them in a way that they can connect as well as bond.

Stage 6 – Humanizing the Brand and Defining the Experience

As Doc Searls says, “There is no market for messages.” Indeed. Through the internalization of sentiment, brands will relearn how to speak. No longer will we focus on the attempted control of the message from conception to documentation to distribution. We realize that we lose control as our messages are introduced into the real world. Virtual control migrates to the actual control of the shaping and protection of our story as it migrates from consumer to consumer. This chain forms a powerful connection that reveals true reactions, perception, and perspectives.

The conversations that bind us form a Human Algorithm that serves as the pulse of awareness, trustworthiness, and emotion.

Branding – The Humanization of the Brand: Once we truly understand the people who influence our markets, we need to establish a persona worthy of attention and affinity. The state of a brand in social media is largely tied to the awareness that a Socialized version of a branding style guide is necessary. It is during this step that brand managers assess the state of the brand persona, realizing that it is derivative of the actions, words and mannerisms associated with interaction. In this stage the persona of the brand and the personality of those who are representing it are calculated and defined by how it is they wish to be portrayed and perceived.

Experience: Our experiences in dynamic social ecosystems teach us that our activity online must not only maintain a sense of purpose, it must also direct traffic and shape perceptions and experiences in the process. We question our current online properties, landing pages, processes, and messages. We usually find that existing architecture for civil engineering leads people from a very vibrant and interactive experience (social networks) to a static dead end (our Web sites). As we attempt to redefine the experience of new customers, prospects and influencers, we essentially induce a brand makeover.

Stage 7 – Community

Community is an investment in the cultivation and fusion of affinity, interaction, advocacy and loyalty. Learned earlier in the stages of new media adoption, community isn’t established with the creation of a Facebook Fan Page, Group, or any online profile for that matter. Community is earned and fortified through shared experiences. Hosting a community isn’t a prerequisite in the cookie-cutter templates of social media of which so many programs are patterned. Community is a commitment and must be done so without compromise. As Kathy Sierra once said, “Trying to replace ‘brand’ with ‘conversation’ does a disservice to both brands & conversations.”

In this stage, businesses learn and visualize through experience, the nucleus of connections and the interests, pains, hopes, and benefits that bind us.

Community Building/Recruitment: While essentially we are building community through engagement in each of the previous stages, as we now possess intimate knowledge of our stakeholders and influencers, we will proactively reach out to ideal participants and potential ambassadors to personally recruit them. We become social architects to build the roads necessary to escort them to a rich and rewarding network to help them receive valuable information and connections.

Stage 8 – Social Darwinism

Before we can collaborate externally, we have to improve collaboration and communication within. Listening and responding is only as effective as its ability to inspire transformation, improvement, and adaptation from the inside out. Survival of the fittest is not in any way tied to whether or not a company engages in social media. Remember, social is but one part of an overall integrated strategy, all of which will point leaders in the direction to effectively compete for the future. It’s how we learn and adapt that ensures our place within the evolution of our markets.

Social Media as embraced in the earlier stages is not scalable. The introduction of new roles will beget the restructuring of teams and workflow, which will ultimately necessitate organizational transformation to support effective engagement, production, and the ongoing evolution towards ensuring brand and product relevance.

Adaptation: In order to truly compete for the future, the actions that govern genuine and artful listening, community building, and advocacy align, in parallel, with the ability of any organization to adapt and improve products, services, and policies according to the laws of the now Web. In order for any team to effectively collaborate externally, it must first foster collaboration within. It is this interdepartmental cooperative exchange that provides a means for which to pursue sincere engagement over time.

Organizational Transformation: The internal renaissance and reorganization of teams and processes to eventually support a formal sCRM program becomes pervasive. As Social Media chases ubiquity, we learn that influence isn’t relegated to one department or function within the organization. Any department affected by external activity will eventually socialize. Therefore an integrated and interconnected network of brand ambassadors will collaborate internally to ensure that the brand is leading and responding to constructive instances, by department. However, at the departmental and brand level, successful social media marketing will require governance and accountability. Organizational transformation will gravitate towards a top-down hierarchy of policy, education, and empowerment across the entire organization.

Stage 9 – The Socialization of Business Processes

As companies and brands learn through participation and analysis and transform teams and processes to support critical opportunities, the stage of organizational transformation surfaces the channels and themes that map accordingly to the internal structure of departments and divisions affected by outside influence and in turn, can also participate in the direction of said influence to benefit individual goals and objectives.

Multiple disciplines and departments will socialize and therefore the assembly or adaptation of a technology and methodology infrastructure is required to streamline and manage social workflow.

Social CRM (SRM): Once opportunities register, scalability, resources, and efficiencies quickly necessitate consideration and support resulting in a modified, or completely new, infrastructure that either augments or resembles a CRM-like workflow. Combining technology, principles, philosophies and processes, social CRM (sCRM) establishes a value chain that fosters relationships within traditional business dynamics. As an organization evolves through engagement, sCRM will transform into SRM – the recognition that all people, not just customers, are equal. It represents a wider scope of active listening and participation across the full spectrum of influence mapped to specific department representatives within the organization using various lenses for which to identify individuals where and how they interact.

Stage 10 – Business Performance Metrics

Inevitably, we report to executives who don’t wish to quantify transparency or authenticity. Their goal, and job, is to steer the company towards greater profitability, relevance, growth, and new opportunities. In order to measure the true effects of social media and eventually guide people to desired locations and actions, we need insight to the numbers behind the activity – at every level.

While many experts argue that there is no need to measure Social, much in the same way that some companies don’t explicitly define the ROI of Superbowl Ads or billboards, make no mistake, social is measurable and the process of mining data tied to our activity is unbelievably empowering. Our ambition to excel should be driven through the inclusion of business performance metrics with or without an executive asking us to do so. It’s the difference between visibility and presence. And in the attention economy, presence is felt.

ROI: I place ROI in stage ten for several reasons. Without an understanding of the volume, locations, and nature of online interaction, the true impact of our digital footprint and its relationship to the bottom line of any business is impossible to assess. The embodiment of social influence and an immersed view of its path and effects combined with our goals and objectives and an intrinsic knowledge of the resources required to achieve them allow us to truly measure ROI. Stage 10 reveals the meaning and opportunity behind the numbers and allows us to identify ways to introduce opportunities for interaction, direction, and action. The “action” is defined by a desired result or outcome and serves as the beacon to reverse engineer activities that end with a point of capture and analysis.

In The End…

The distance between where we are today and where we need to be however is separated by the people who seek solutions and direction in the places where we’re not currently focused. Our work in 2010 is dedicated to narrowing the social chasm.

The thing about new media is that it’s always new and as such, these stages represent a moment in time. They will continue to change, augment, and expand as new technologies, experiences, and innovations are introduced to those champions who can effectively integrate and learn from experimentation and assessment.

In the end, Social media is privilege and with it, we learn just one more piece of how to run a more meaningful and relevant business.

Championing Change from Within: Getting Buy-in

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Social Media is as revolutionary as it is evolutionary. It represents an important chapter in the ongoing saga and transformation of new media.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed that the 10 stages of social media integration in business are almost always set in motion by an internal champion who is determined and impassioned to engender change from the inside out. These champions emerge from different disciplines and departments and are typically role agnostic. Depending on the organization, champions exist in customer service, communications, marketing, interactive, as well as executive management. The change that these champions engender will ultimately represent a revolution in the spirit, philosophy, vision, and framework for organizations, one that increases market relevance and dramatically enhances the opportunity for affinity and fidelity.

Champions however, are the beginning of an important movement, a mainspring that needs the alignment of more formidable allies and platforms to impact the business overall.

Social Media champions are often referred to as change agents or trust agents as their dedication rouses and inspires trust within their organizations as well as within the social communities that define their landscape of influence. Monikers we haven’t yet seen to define these advocates are ones that actually reflect their next stages of growth and advancement. Inevitably all champions become politicians and ultimately diplomats in order to truly become change agents across the entire organization. The difference is that a champion represents a catalyst for defining and presenting the case for adaptation and experimentation. They either do so by acting now and apologizing later, and/or they review and curate case studies and success stories in order to earn support for an official, funded pilot program.

As experience is established and initial successes are presented, champions are then challenged by inspired believers or worse, the opportunists within the organization who realize that social media represents an opportunity for personal and professional advancement. Internal competition ensues and without formal governance or training, social media becomes a landscape that resembles corporate anarchy.

Change agents are not martyrs however, and their passion is not overthrown by the materialization of opportunists. Their fervor is only intensified as they earn and build networks of support within as well as outside through online and offline engagement. Eventually our champions realize that they must become politicians in order to stimulate and advance social media adoption across the entire company. To do so effectively and with meaningful results, it is critical that social media earns the attention, support and focus of the executives who hold the wheel for steering the current and future direction of the company.

Politicians understand that in order to reach the greater goal of the cause they so passionately believe in, they must also lobby on behalf of that cause among the policy makers and change agents that exist in key posts at every level. In doing so, a wave of validation and constituencies will rise and grow as it migrates toward the heart of the organization.

Through every experiment, success, or failure, the understanding of social media only intensifies. As such, social media programming will grow more sophisticated over time – representing a new age for social media. In many ways, the potential for social media is beyond the grasp of any one individual and as such, politicians become diplomats to introduce experiences across the organization in sensitive and effective ways.

While social experimentation starts and flourishes within one department, every outward facing group as well as those affected by inbound and surrounding influence, will need to socialize (whether it’s through engagement or simply by learning through observation, listening and research). What begins as a bottom-up movement requires a top-down directive to precipitate a formal renaissance sparked by champions, lobbied through politicians, and promoted through emissaries.

The socialization of media creates a vital, plugged-in business channel and as such, support from the C-suite is mandatory. However, many executives are not clear in how they should lead transformation and therefore require guidance from those politicians who have successfully lobbied for and earned support. As discussed in my next book, the creation of New Media Councils or Advisory Boards are imperative to the expansion of socially-aware programs and the departments and resources that can support and scale with them.

The question of who owns social media suddenly dissipates in favor of a discussion that is far more substantial and productive. It’s a collaborative process embraced by the entire organization with specific benefits defined and delivered to everyone involved, including those affected by our actions.

Over the years, I have participated in the creation of many Advisory Boards, both internal (current employees) and external (stakeholders, influencers, experts), within small businesses and Fortune 500 companies as a way of organizing efforts and resources around the vision of champions, turned politicians. This council essentially facilitates collaboration, addresses politics, secures buy-in across the organization, pools budgets, and promotes accountability.  More importantly, one of the council’s primary objectives and responsibilities is to ensure the education and advancement of employees to create an organization rife with ambassadors and advocates beyond the original group of champions. Advisors should include representatives from each division that requires a social presence, and let’s not forget legal, as well as those individuals who represent the people inside the organization as well as those who define our markets.

The path from champion to politician to diplomat is long and tumultuous, but it is however, essential to the furtherance of new media within the organization as well as to the career of those who remain diligent and sincere. While the word politician may evoke certain emotions, usually less than complimentary, the difference in goals, tactics, and objectives represents an intrinsic shift from proponent, promoter, and crusader to a new role as strategist, lobbyist, community builder, and campaigner.

Where do you see yourself in this sea of change?

The State of Social Media Around the World 2010

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

If you were to look at Social Media the United States and many other parts of the world, you would believe that the world of Social Media was flat, dominated by social continents including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and Flickr. As we zoom in, we visualize other established and emerging social services that depict provinces and outlying settlements of our social atlas.

Upon publishing the original Conversation Prism, which was the culmination of a year’s work documenting and organizing the social web by usage and conversational patterns, the world responded by creating Conversation Prisms specific to each country. I shared several new social maps in “The Landscape for International Social Networking.”

Over the years, other maps emerged that documented leading social networks around the world as well as the social behavior associated within each country. As Social Media is truly global and relationships are truly without borders, I too have spent a great deal of time researching the networks that host conversations relevant to my projects regardless of geographic location.

Italian blogger Vincenzo Cosenza has for the second time, published a visual map that portrays the most popular social networks around the world based on the most recent traffic data (December 2009) as measured by Alexa & Google Trends for Websites.

Upon review, it’s clear that Facebook, at 400 million, is truly earning a global audience, which naturally burrows its social roots with every new connection and the connections of connections forged within the network. According to research, Facebook dominates in 100 out of 127 countries measured.

If we were to analyze the top three social networks by what many argue are the top 10 markets for social networking, our view comes into focus and allows us to see where our attention and participation is required in our global efforts.

Australia

1. Facebook
2. MySpace
3. Twitter

Canada

1. Facebook
2. MySpace
3. Flickr

China

1. QQ – 300 million active accounts
2. Xiaonei
3. 51

France

1. Facebook
2. Skyrock
3. MySpace

Germany

1. Facebook
2. StudiVZ
3. MySpace

Italy

1. Facebook
2. Netlog
3. Badoo

Russia

1. V Kontakte
2. Odnoklassniki
3. LiveJournal

Spain

1. Facebook
2. Tuenti
3. Fotolog

United Kingdom

1. Facebook
2. Bebo
3. MySpace

United States

1. Facebook
2. MySpace
3. Twitter

In other parts of the world, social networks that might not have registered previously among leading experts, emerge as candidates when location and society prove paramount in highly targeted, culturally-aware programs.

For example, Google’s Orkut is Brazil’s top social network.

Hi5 is leading in Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Thailand and Mongolia.

In the Czech Republic, Lide is the network of choice.

Maktoob is the social hub in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen.

South Korea is focusing its dialogue and connections in Cyworld.

Social networking in Guadeloupe and Martinque is concentrated at Skyrock.

Mixi is the leading central station for social activity in Japan.

The leaderboard of those countries not yet friended by or fans of Facebook include:

Hungary – Iwiw

Poland – Nasza-klasa

Philippines – Friendster

Netherlands – Hyves

Lithuania – One

Latvia – Draugiem

Taiwan – Wretch

Zing – Vietnam

The Global Web Index

The race for supremacy in social networking is only part of the story.  As in any race, we typically expect a winner to reach an end. However, this competition is absent of finish line and as a result, a true overall winner is beside the point. Many networks will enjoy time in the spotlight until their luster ages and a new framework for engagement lures our friends of friends, our friends, and finally our attention and participation. As consumers, we go where we are not only wanted, but also where we can make an impact.

While we’ve reviewed the top social networks across the social Web, ranked by countries spanning the globe, the balance of the story is represented in the actions that define social media engagement within each network and influenced by the culture of each country of prevalence.

TrendStream analyzed social media activity around the world and captured the results in a stunning infographic.

This graph essentially unravels the ties that bind us and peels back the layers of social networking technologies and platforms to reveal how real people are adopting and engaging in the social web.

The map demystifies how social media is embraced around the world, demonstrating that social computing and collaboration is far from ubiquitous. And, in many countries, how we use social media is much different than how we will use it over time. We’re still in the very early stages of the social (r)evolution..

TrendStream in partnership with Lightspeed Research interviewed 32,000 Web users in 16 countries. As such, the Global Web Index analyzes active social web involvement and then organizes and presents behavior by volume (in millions). Reviewing the Global Web Index and fusing the information with the data included in the World Map of Social Networks, we can get a clear indication of how social behavior defines social networks and to what extent. It’s a goldmine of data for any brand or government agency seeking a more influential form of propaganda (2.0).

Social Web Involvement is categorized as:

Pink – Uploading photos online

Purple – Uploading videos

Blue – Managing a social network profile

Orange – Blogging

Pink – Micro-blogging

Grey – Percentage of population with access to social tools

Presenting the Data

Australia

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access= 40% | Users = 5m
Photos: Access = 39.1% | Users = 4.9m
Videos: Access  = 11.9% | Users = 1.5m
Blogging: Access = 11.4% | Users = 1.4m
Micro Blogging: Access = 5.6% | Users = .7m

Brazil

Leading Network: Orkut

Social Network Profiles: Access= 59.6% | Users = 17.9m
Photos: Access = 54.9% | Users = 16.2m
Videos: Access  = 34% | Users = 10.2m
Blogging: Access = 20.7% | Users = 6.2m
Micro Blogging: Access = 14.2% | Users = 4.3m

Canada

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access = 46.2% | Users = 10.2m
Photos: Access = 40.9% | Users = 9m
Videos:  Access = 14.9% | Users = 3.3m
Blogging: Access = 10.6% | Users = 2.3m
Micro Blogging: Access = 5.1% | Users = 1.1m

China

Leading Network: QQ

Photos: Access = 60.3% | Users = 117.7m
Blogging: Access = 46% | Users = 89.7m
Videos:  Access = 28.7% | Users = 55.9m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 27.3% | Users = 53.2m
Micro Blogging: Access = 21.3% | Users = 41.5m

France

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access = 29.3% | Users = 11.2m
Photos: Access = 27.5% | Users = 10.5m
Blogging: Access = 9.5% | Users = 3.6m
Videos: Access = 9.5% | Users = 3.6m
Micro Blogging: Access = 3.8% | Users = 1.4m

Germany

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access = 32.7% | Users = 13.9m
Photos: Access = 31.6% | Users = 13.4m
Blogging: Access = 10% | Users = 4.3m
Videos: Access = 8.5% | Users = 3.6m
Micro Blogging: Access = 5.7% | Users = 2.4m

India

Leading Network: Facebook

Photos: Access = 63.9% | Users = 22.4m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 57.5% | Users = 20.1m
Videos: Access = 36.2% | Users = 12.7m
Blogging: Access = 34% | Users = 11.9m
Micro Blogging: Access = 24% | Users = 8.4m

Italy

Leading Network: Facebook

Photos: Access = 43.3% | Users = 9.1m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 35.8% | Users = 7.6m
Videos: Access = 20.9% | Users = 4.4m
Blogging: Access = 19.4% | Users = 4.1m
Micro Blogging: Access = 12.3% | Users = 2.6m

Japan

Leading Network: Mixi

Blogging: Access = 24.5% | Users = 15.9m
Photos: Access = 19.5% | Users = 12.7m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 14.9% | Users = 9.7m
Micro Blogging: Access = 8% | Users = 5.2m
Videos: Access = 5.7% | Users = 3.7m

Mexico

Leading Network: Facebook

Photos: Access = 52.9% | Users = 6.4m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 40.2% | Users = 4.8m
Blogging: Access = 25.6% | Users = 3.1m
Videos: Access = 22.1% | Users = 2.7m
Micro Blogging: Access = 13.7% | Users = 1.6m

The Netherlands

Leading Network: Hyves

Photos: Access = 37% | Users = 4.8m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 36.2% | Users = 4.7m
Blogging: Access = 10.1% | Users = 1.3m
Videos: Access = 10% | Users = 1.3m
Micro Blogging: Access = 3.5% | Users = .45m

Russia

Leading Network: V Kontakte

Photos: Access = 59.9% | Users = 18.8m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 48% | Users = 15.3m
Videos: Access = 39.6% | Users = 12.6m
Blogging: Access = 18.3% | Users = 5.8m
Micro Blogging: Access = 12% | Users = 3.8m

South Korea

Leading Network: Facebook

Photos: Access = 53.1% | Users = 14.9m
Blogging: Access = 39.9% | Users = 11.2m
Videos: Access = 19.5% | Users = 5.5m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 15.6% | Users = 4.4m
Micro Blogging: Access = 14% | Users = 4m

Spain

Leading Network: Facebook

Photos: Access = 39.4% | Users = 7.4m
Social Network Profiles: Access = 35.8% | Users = 6.7m
Blogging: Access = 17.2% | Users = 3.2m
Videos: Access = 16.2% | Users = 3.1m
Micro Blogging: Access = 7.5% | Users = 1.4m

UK

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access = 42.6% | Users = 15.9m
Photos: Access = 38.2% | Users = 15.7m
Videos: Access = 11.5% | Users = 2.4m
Blogging: Access = 8.4% | Users = 5.5m
Micro Blogging: Access = 5.3% | Users = 4.6m

USA

Leading Network: Facebook

Social Network Profiles: Access = 44.2% | Users = 92.1m
Photos: Access = 42.6% | Users = 79.2m
Videos: Access = 15.3% | Users = 23.5m
Blogging: Access = 12.8% | Users = 17.6m
Micro Blogging: Access = 7% | Users = 10.7m

Observations

In 50% of the countries included in this study, online photo sharing dominated the list of social media applications. It is also among the oldest of social services within the included mix.

44% of the countries in this survey embrace online profiles in social networks suggesting that their personal brand, whether for engaging in personal or professional interactions, is becoming increasingly important.

81% shared photos and online profiles as the top 1 and 2 activities with the exception of Japan, China, and South Korea where blogging displaced social profiles as a top application.

94% of countries reported that micro-blogging (think Twitter) were among the least pervasive with the exception of Japan, where it ranked fourth – just below social network profiles and above video.

China’s digital footprint is massive, defined by the incredible volume of content creators and the contribution of their social objects. As the study reports, “due to the inward looking nature of China’s internet economy combined with the language mean that this volume of content does not impact the broader Internet.”

TechCrunch also observed a tremendous opportunity for Facebook in Russia. Leading network Vkontakte.ru is in many regards, a Facebook clone. However, its facsimile of a growing global network is also indicative of a potential deal. Vkontakte is owned in large part by Digital Sky Technologies, a company which also owns a noteworthy stake in Facebook. A deal of this magnitude would further socialize Russian and other worldwide users under one truly global social network.

As we examine opportunities for global social networking, we are reminded that anthropology and sociology play critical roles in observing and documenting behavior, supporting cultures, and established governances for dictating how content, information, and relationships forge and flourish. In order to ensure relevance and earn significance within networks, we must think locally when examining opportunities globally. In addition, as culture and behavior shifts across countries, they also establish a new dynamic within each Social Networks creating a universal population that adapts what they know to what they learn and experience.

Social Media Optimization: SMO is the New SEO – Part 2

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

For the sake of reading this post in context, SMO should be part of an overall SEO strategy (SEO + SMO = Amplified Findability in the traditional and social Web)

In the previous post, I discussed the importance of social objects (images, videos, blog posts, comments, status updates, wall posts, etc.) in a Social Media Optimization campaign. This month, I am going to explore the five major ways that these social objects can be contextualized: keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and/or links.

Keywords

Keywords are the terms that people use to find relevant information in searches. When selecting keywords for your social objects, it’s important to remember that the keywords used by customers and influencers are not always what you think they’d be. To help, I suggest visiting Google Adwords to generate keyword ideas:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

It’s also important to use Web analytics on your Website or blog to see how people are phrasing searches to arrive at your site. This allows you to calibrate your keywords accordingly.

Titles

Titles refer to the official designation or name of your content. Instead of focusing on a sensational or controversial title as in other forms of marketing, headlines on the social web should feature title tags and keywords upfront. In Social Media, your headline must contain the keywords that explicitly match the search patterns of the people you hope to reach.

Descriptions

Descriptions further refine the context of your social object to entice visitors to view and circulate your content amongst their social graph.

The description field is your chance to frame an object in order to further convince the viewer to click through to it. A good rule of thumb when writing descriptions is to make sure that your copy includes at least three keywords related to your business/brand and target viewers – without reading as text explicitly written to manipulate search results.

Tags

Tags are keywords that further group and organize your Social Object within the social network.

Tags are based on folksonomy, a system of classification derived from the practice of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content within specific networks. In order to make sure that your tags are categorized most effectively, make sure they include keywords related to the branding and marketing of your product, as well as its competition.

Links

Links are the currency of the Web and serve as the primary undercurrent of search engine optimization. As in SEO, links help fuel traffic (as measured in views) to your social object, and contribute to your ranking within initial search results. Links equate to authority, and by amassing an extensive inbound linking infrastructure, the visibility of your social object can earn significant inertia. This, in turn, allows it to traverse from resident social network searches to appear in matching results in traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

For example, sharing a link on Twitter and Facebook that points back to a video on YouTube extends the reach of the video to people in one or more forums, potentially connecting them to your content. If individuals within these outside social networks decide to share the video across their social graphs, we further extend the visibility and the authority of each object.

No brand is an island. As many online activities begin with a search, creating and deploying strategic beacons of information within targeted social networks creates roads and bridges back to you or the brand you represent. This “inbound” form of unmarketing, enriched through strategic SMO, helps us connect our value and our story to those who are already searching for solutions and guidance. We’re either part of the results or we’re unfortunately absent from further consideration.

While we can’t be everywhere at all times in social media, social objects can serve as our representatives in order to spark meaningful conversations now and in the future.

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