Sunday, April 3, 2011

Engaging Our Audience

As we continue on through Brian Solis' Engaged, we learn a variety of ways to increase of social media skills and to engage the audience. In chapter 6, Solis begins by examining the "understated" power of photo-sharing websites like Flickr, Webshots, and Photobucket. Solis says that people who use Flickr are able to "build relationships" over a number of topics (travel, music, etc.) The word relationships really stuck out to me when I was reading through the book. Social media serves to bring people together and connect us and in turn, develop relationships. By sharing our interests and hobbies in images on a social media website like Flickr, we allow ourselves to connect with others who share the same passions.

Solis talks about how The American Red Cross used Flickr for members to share photos and experiences while working with The Red Cross. By sharing stories and photos, it helped the volunteers build relationships and increase connectedness. Despite being a great social network, websites like Flickr are most effective when they are used in conjunction to other social media networks. The American Red Cross also has a blog, Twitter, and Facebook account that are frequently updated. Users are able to interact across multiple social media networks. 

What are some other ways to increase social connectedness? Solis points out a number of ways to create chatter and effectively transmit information. One of the most popular, and socialized, areas of social media are forums/discussion boards. On discussion boards, individuals are able to openly talk about any number of topics. When I need a question answered, a lot of times I will type the question into Google and a number of discussion boards will pop up. Here, people who have the same question work together to find a solution. It is a quick, and generally, effective means of communicating. Solis uses Yelp as an example of a social forum. Members of Yelp provide personal experiences and stories at local businesses in any area. In turn, readers are able to get "real" insight into a restaurant before they go eat. This type of reviewing website is a great way to connect individuals and share stories. It is also very beneficial for finding out nitty gritty facts about restaurants and businesses. 

How do we maximize ourselves on Twitter? Solis provides 21 tips that will help increase connectedness and spread information for brands. Tips include concepts such as: special offers, focus groups, customer service, curation, fundraising, and events. Each of these tips can help brands make their mark on Twitter. 

It is important for brands to make sure that they do not "cross over streams" when they are using social media networks. Each network requires a certain type of behavior. On Twitter, we use short words and language because of the space we are allowed. However, the same sparse language should be avoided on a blog.

Overall, Solis provides an excellent jumping point for brands and individuals to maximize their social networking experience. 

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