This is a general call to all interested in helping to contribute to the social media sector in Ireland though collaborative work. We are inviting you all with an open invite to a kick off session in the Digital Hub on 24th February at from 6.00pm to 7.00pm. Please register for free online.
The group has an official set of aims outlined but in truth this sector moves incredibly rapidly and I would really love to hear people views on what they think a grouping of like-minded, motivated and skilled digital people can achieve. In essence the working group is a collective effort and we can achieve more through harnessing each other’s expertise than we can as stand-alone units. No one of us has all the answers.
My experience of these type groups is that if we follow a defined and agreed set of work that it moves quickly from a talking shop to something of real value. We will be asking for time but we will respect it and use it as efficiently as possible. Your expertise may come in the form of peer review of papers/reports we build, speaking at events or face to face meetings to run through work.
Ultimately the Irish Internet Association and the industry in general will benefit from a lot of the work done by the group but this not a selfless task and by giving up time your efforts will be acknowledged.
For my part I am committing a year in chairing the group. I don’t have all the answers and this is not driven by ego but I am passionate about the social media sector and how it changing how we communicate and do business.
At the session on the 24th I will outline some of the work done previously, the work in progress and some thoughts about areas we can make a real impact. I am stepping into big shoes following on from the excellent work by previous chairs Conor Lynch and Brendan Hughes and I would like to thank them and the other members of the group and the IIA staff for the hard work to date.
A note from Roseanne, IIA Membership Manager: While we welcome all to come along to this meeting to hear about the Social Media Working Group plans only fully paid-up members can join the Working Group. You can join online or get in touch with me by email or 01 5424154 to discuss membership with me. I will, of course, be at this meeting if you would like to talk to me then.
Okay no prizes for original titles for me when writing about Google’s new service Buzz. I’m now seeing it in my Gmail from my PC but so far I have checked it out more often on the iPhone. I fear Google may be a little late to the party on this one but the promised open-ness (“Connect sites you already use. Import your stuff from Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader.”) should allow people already familiar with other Google services to tap into it. I already use Friendfeed in a very lacklustre manner admittedly but it fills my lifestreaming void (Bet you didn’t even know you could have one of them eh?) Increasingly many social networks do allow this cross pollination through RSS feeds and APIs. The amount of replication as a result can be overwhelming and irritating. I know one of the things I’ll be doing next week while waiting for the arrival of Nipper 3.0 will be sorting out all my feeds, where they’re going and who’s seeing them. I know, the excitement!
However not everyone is enthralled by Buzz. Laurent Francois of Social Media Today feels that the assumption that Google make that you automatically want to be visible or see all your Gmail contacts is a big assumption and a questionable attitude to privacy.
But what’s the buzz for business? The mobile version is location specific (although it’s been having a fine time pinpointing my location so far) allowing users to “view buzz near your location” or “Post buzz tagged with your location”. This could be a great boon to businesses using Buzz and Google Maps as one of the functions allows the user to see Buzz “Nearby” and add in locations not unlike that other new-ish kid on the Irish block, Foursquare. Businesses could buzz about special offers, events, opening hours etc. and pick up passing buzzers. Despite Laurent’s fears above it will still be up to customers whether they follow the buzz on businesses or not. For customers however it’s nice to know that you can click on the nearby button when you’re thinking of a purchase and seeing if any nearby businesses are offering any specials, whether they are open and what your options are.
This post started as a comment on Krishna De’s blog post about the recent enormous growth that Facebook have seen but I felt it was getting a little long-winded! In the last six months Facebook report that they have seen an extra 100 million users joining the service, bringing their total to 300 million active users. Krishna has posted a video of Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg talking about what this growth means for Facebook. This video is well worth a look as Sandberg talks about how Facebook has seen constant growth not only in users but in cash flow through a recession, partly because of their strategy for creating engaging advertising and promotional models so head back over there to check it out.
What struck me about the information in this video and in Krishna’s post was the figure of 55 million users acessing Facebook via mobile. In the most recent State of the Net (available online later today) Three Mobile report that 43% of the mobile internet usage o ntheir network is to Facebook and Bebo. While I have not accessed Bebo from my mobile I do access Facebook on my iPhone. Their newest app is a vast improvement but I notice that there is no advertising! So I fail to see what it means to businesses that 55 million users are accessing Facebook via mobile when they’re not getting any of those eyeballs!
Then I wonder if Facebook is training me to get used to their app while they perfect it (because let’s be honest the previous incarnation of the app was as good as useless). While I’m getting used to and, I admit it, mildly addicted to this app, are they, in a similar way to how they rolled out and improved the functionality of their advertising online, working out the best, most social and engaging way to display advertising to their mobile users? No doubt those of us in Apps Anonymous will be the first to know!
Whatever their plans for our eyeballs there is no doubt that there is a place for business on Facebook now and I think that Facebook’s recent changes and developments in the way organisations can get involved in Facebook has had some hand in their recent growth. I’ve certainly been using Facebook more, including advertising and promoting upcoming IIA events from the IIA’s Facebook page. I’ll keep you posted on how that works for us but I know Puddleducks, an IIA Member, have been posting their progress with Facebook ads on their blog. Let me know if you have any further information about your organisation’s experience with Facebook ads. We’d love to roll it out as a Social Media Case Study.
A while ago now myself and Damien Mulley participated in a podcast for Enterprise Ireland about blogging for business. The interview was conducted by Ralph Averbuch who was shortlisted in the Best Business Podcaster category in the Net Visionary Awards earlier this year.
I hope you find it useful.
I’ve been blogging since 2003 (not here on my personal blog) and much of that blogging was, I presumed, never read by anyone. But every once in a while someone would mention my blog to me in conversation or I would receive a comment and it would all click into place and inspire me to keep going. As more people use social media tools and more of those tools help us broadcast our content (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed) and help us collect, sort, digest and engage with others’ content there will be less blogging in the dark. Some fear that there will be just less blogging and I understand this fear. However I think that a blog should be the backbone of your social media presence, allowing you to expand on the ideas that attract people to you (and your brand if you’re representing a business) in other social media. It also allows you to develop ideas and conversations in your own space.
However reading about Disqus, “a real time comment system”, makes me realise that services like this will give commenters just as much control and ownership of their content as the bloggers who inspired the comment. This acknowledges the importance of commenting and rightly so. It’s been a while since I used a comment management system. I tried one maybe two years ago and it was very clunky but I must give this a go again.
Anyway over to Seth and Tom!
This week’s Social Media Case Study is written by Niall Devine of MyCharity.ie. He is also a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group. In his case study he writes about some of the social media they have used and the decisions they made about how they would implement and what they learned from those decisions. He writes also about how recent change to a popular platform (Facebook) made some aspects of their social media forays difficult but happily not impossible for MyCharity.ie.
Background – what do we do.
Mycharity.ie provides online fundraising services to charities. We will enable and process more than €2.5M euro worth of charity donations to our 250+ charity customers. It is key to our business that our customer base (the charities) know that we exist and what we do. It is also key that the charities “customers” i.e. fundraisers and donors know that that we exist and what we do.
Viral Marketing – it is essential for us – how do we make it work?
We are very lucky in the way that our business works. Through email, it virally markets itself. If someone creates a fundraising page (sponsorship card) on the mycharity.ie site for a charity, they then email all their friends with the link to the fundraising page looking for sponsorship. All their friends now know about the site and what it does. Multiply 5,000 fundraisers a year x say 50 friends per fundraiser and you can see the 250,000 people viral marketing affect.
Viral Marketing – using social media
While we count ourselves as very lucky in the way that our business works from a viral marketing point of view using email, we recognise the huge contribution that social media can make.
As we all know search engines and their ranking mechanisms like video. So mycharity.ie commissioned a video from Media Concepts Ltd (a video production company) and placed it front and centre on our home page www.mycharity.ie. The text about our video says “Click here to see a short promotional video about who we are and what we do, and what our customers say about us.” It does exactly what is says on the tin and saves us having to answer the phone all the time to explain what we do saving on office admin overhead. It works very well for us as an SEO ranking tool. It cost us approx €2,000 and was well worth the investment. We can’t quantify exactly in figures what is has done for the business, many of our current customers tell us they watched it and were impressed. It all helps with getting new customers on board.
Search engines also like blogs because they create new content all the time (if maintained) and if the information is interesting and relevant it will create lots of inbound links to your site. Let’s not forget that people also like new content that is interesting to them and relevant. The search engines are just set up to reflect what people like.
So mycharity.ie has implemented WordPress Multi User on the mycharity.ie site. We have yet to upgrade the live site with it but it is coming soon. We can’t speak of what has actually happened yet, but we can tell you what we anticipate will happen.
We are giving ourselves our own blog, and we are giving all our charities their own blog for free. We will put our latest daily news, musings, funny stories etc on the blog and if people like it they will tune in. We will also use it to garner our customers thoughts and opinions on various questions that we may have, such as what services would you like to see next on the site etc.
We are also giving all our customer charities their own blog to do exactly the same as described above. But the key for us is that ALL the blogs are hosted on our site. All the inbound links and all the new and updates information will be found on our site, and hence our search and ranking, and the traffic to our site increases. It’s important to point out that we are not “stealing” traffic from our customers sites. They are of course free to implement their own blogs on their own sites. But by us doing it for them (for free remember) we get the benefit of the traffic and increased search engine ranking.
Social Networking Sites
These are very powerful if you can make them work for you, and we are doing our best to make them work for us. Lets explain what we have already done and how we did it, and then explain what new stuff we are doing now and why.
Old Facebook – Facebook changed in terms of its look and feel in October of last year (2008). Unfortunately we started to build a facebook application for the mycharity.ie site in September 2008. We ended up chasing a moving target. The application was designed to allow users of the mycharity site to post a mini version of their fundraising page to their facebook profile. The idea being their friends could see it and donate to it. We chased the ever moving facebook and eventually got there. We used a designer for cost purposes based abroad. We got the application built for approx €1,200, and it did what we asked for. However the language barrier and time zone difference proved frustrating much of the time and we had to put in many more hours into the project than we wanted to. Also their knowledge of the abilities of Facebook as a site wasn’t brilliant so we had to tell them what we wanted rather than them telling us what we could, should or might do. We soft launched the application to the charities on the mycharity.ie. It’s free at the moment because it’s not viral enough as far as we are concerned (more on that in a bit). It’s actually the users (the public) that are asking for the FB functionality to be switched on for a given charity rather than the charity themselves. The requester recognises the benefit to them to their fundraising efforts.
New Facebook – This is where it’s at. Now that FB have more or less finished messing about with their site we have a non moving target to hit. Always helps! We have engaged an Irish company to develop further FB functionality for us. No language barrier, no time zone issues, and they know so much about what FB does and is capable of, that they are able to suggest to us what we should and can do. It’s in development at the moment. We hope the new application will be far more viral. At the end of each process on the mycharity.ie site (sponsor a friend, donate to a charity, create a fundraising page) the user will have the option to “share” what they have just done on the mycharity site with their friends on facebook (and Bebo, Twitter etc). “Sharing” might be a message on the users Wall saying “I have just donated €20 to Jane Smiths Women’s Mini Marathon Fundraising page in aid of the ABC Charity”. The message is posted to the users Wall on Facebook for all their friends to see, and hopefully follow suit and donate. Many FB users would have 200+ friends in FB. So once again the viral affect of promoting mycharity.ie, the charity and the fundraiser is huge.
The cost of getting the development done is Ireland is higher but the expertise, if you find the right company, is well worth the extra cost. They will also be able to tell you if your business / business model is likely to benefit from this kind of marketing…or not as the case may be.
So mycharity.ie uses email, video, blogs, and social networking sites to good effect to promote itself. We will in the future bring the ability for users to post pictures and or videos to their fundraising pages using www.flickr.com and www.youtube.com . There are other aspects of social media such as podcasting that we may yet use. Imagine you got an email or a message on FB from a friend with an audio file of their verbal request for your donation to their fundraising effort. Personal, fun and very different. Might just get you over the line to make a donation. Our strategy is to look at everything to see if we can make it work for us. You should too!
Many of the delegates at IIA Congress 2009 shared their impressions, notes and photos of the Congress and now I’d like to share them with you! Please leave a comment if I have missed your review, photos or other media about the event and I would be delighted to add it.
Krishna De shares some really evocative photos of both the Congress and the Net Visionary Awards – have a gander you may see yourself there! Speaking of which you might like to check out the “official” IIA shots on Pix.ie
Keith Shirley gives a very measured review of the two days and his feedback is appreciated. He was involved in our breakout sessions as a members of the Social Media Working Group and he also stepped up as a Social Media mentor on Day 2 so big thanks to him!
Gita of Agile Technologies includes reviews of the 3 breakout sessions she attended and are well worth a look.
Fred from Channelship managed to interview two of the plenary speakers from the Congress and I’m including the vids below for you. You can hear the complete speeches from Colm Lyon, Realex Payments, Trey Harvin, dotMobi, Ronan Harris, Google and Colm Long, Facebook as MP3s on the IIA site.
Continuing the Social Media Working Group’s series of case studies is Michelle Daly from Paddypower was the second of our two case studies at the launch of “Join the Conversation: A Guide to Blogging for Business” Please find her presentation below. Thanks to Brendan Hughes, FBD.ie and chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group for recording and preparing the slide show below.
I am delighted that the IIA Social Media Working Group are launching “Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business” today. Being a member of the working group (and we are all volunteers) I know how much work went into the guide and all the agonizing that was done over the tiniest details . I hope you find it useful and inspiring. However the whole group would love if you could share your thoughts and feedback in the comments here or via twitter, by email, by skype; whichever is your preferred medium!
I have prepared a social media press release for those of you who might like some background information on the guide and those involved. This includes links to media, images, content and a Delicious page with all manner of related content. It might be worth grabbing a feed for this as I will add to it as more content appears online. I hope you find this a useful way of sharing information and I would love any feedback you have on this approach.
A big thank you as well to IIA Member Company Vermillion Design who developed the design of the Guide. It is designed to work best on screen but can be printed also.