Social Media Outlook 2012
What’s in the Plan?
Social Media can be confusing. It’s an evolving and rapidly changing environment as more and more of the world’s population embraces one or more social media platforms. in many ways it resembles the Gold Rush in San Francisco in 1849. There’s new people and new ideas arriving daily and what used to be a ship docked that you walked down the gangplank from, turned into a sunken barge that then became back-filled with land, the deck house knocked off, covered over with dirt and a 3 story building put up on top of it... in less than a month.
What many people fail to realize is that each of the social media outlets have a love/hate relationships with each other. In some cases they work together as “friends” in others, as “enemies” and in still other relationships as what is now termed as “frenemies”. Since many of the platforms are interconnected, or not, sometimes it can be tough to get a good perspective of the “forest” without getting mired down in the “trees”.
In the following series of posstings at Social Media Today I'm going to be taking a look at many seemingly disparate pieces of the Social Media puzzle and how they fit together. As I embarked on Social Media marketing I was unable to find a "forest level" overview of everything that impacted Social Media marketing. I'll try to bring some of the big picture concepts together in this series. Here's what I'll do:
Provide an overview of the popular Social Media Platforms currently deployed
Social Media Suggested Goals 2012
So, let's get started!
The “Internet” as we know is in a constant state of change. Unlike the most other technologies that grow and expand along a fairly steady course, the Internet continues to drive more communication and therefore more innovation. It doesn’t grow along a set path and the rules of “relativity” change. Where you thought you where once held down by some gravitational force because things where ‘set’ in place is just a wrong assumption.
“There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” ~ Douglas Adams
In this section I’ll explain some of the bigger things that are happening in the Internet universe. In order to fully grasp how Social Media is working and is going to work you should have a fundamental understand of the “rules of relativity”. Without an understanding things are going to fall from the sky and you'll certainly think that the gods must be crazy. Before I delve into some details of what’s changing I want to explain some terminology that you may or may not be familiar with already.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, is a non-profit corporation headquartered in Marina del Rey, CA. “ICANN's primary principles of operation have been described as helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet; to promote competition; to achieve broad representation of the global Internet community; and to develop policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes”
When ‘buy’ your website name www.example.com you use a registrar to claim your name and then you are the only person in the world with THAT name. In actually you really haven’t purchased a “name” but you’ve really registered a number. Think of it like this: If your name is John Smith, and you contacted a government agency, they don’t ask for your name, they ask for your social security number. On the internet this number is called your IP (Internet Protocol) address. Think of your IP address the way you think about your social security number. What you quickly realize is that there is a heck of lot more unique number combinations than there are names. The key here is that you have an IP address and domain name that ends in .com .net etc and it points to an actual number. But just like no one calls you by your social security number, 158.26.4381 (<THIS is a random number folks) , they call you by your name “John Smith”
“The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices worldwide.
An often-used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer host names into IP addresses. For example, the domain name www.example.com translates to the addresses 18.104.22.168 (IPv4) and 2620:0:2d0:200::10”
Because of the sheer growth of the use of the internet, on a global scale, the number of Generic Top Level Domain Names (gTLD’s) is running out.That’s the gTLD’s that appear at the end of your website address like .com, .net, .org, etc.
On January 12, 2012 ICANN opened up sales of new gTLD’s What that means it that you can now buy any name extension that you want for $185,000US. There is quite a bit of uncertainty and controversy surrounding this move and some feel "that things can go horribly wrong"
Your Website & Social Media
One of the initial precepts that many of my clients have is that their Social Media name is going to be dictated by their experience in selecting a name for website and they want to choose a name that is the same as their website URL. At first glance, that’s not a bad idea. Unless of course the website name is going to be irrelevant.
When YOU search for a website, as a general rule, do you type the the website address (look it up on a business card or type it from memory) or do you just start typing the name of the company in the search bar? If you’re like most people, you just type it in search. Does it matter to you if the extension for the site is .com .net or .biz? Probably not. In most cases, you probably don’t even notice what the extension is once you get there. Did you know that if you use Google’s Chrome Browser there’s even an option to turn off the URL address so it doesn’t take up so much screen real estate?
Here’s the key takeaway:Don’t base your Social Media name on your website name. Just like more area codes needed to be created in the United States with the increase in the number of cell phones, ICANN is expanding the of number of gTLD’s and you can petition for your own custom one. If you’re a global brand, and your company name lends itself to a cool memorable name like www.dig.it then you may want to pony up $185K for it. If not, then it’s a footnote, but don’t base your social media name on it. (Yes, I know .it is already avialable, but i needed a good example :-)
“Whois” competitive analysis
Whois is a wonderful foundation level research area that many companies don’t take the time to take a quick peek at who owns and manages their competitors DNS. The Whois database lists who owns and who the contacts are for any given website address. If you’re just entering into a Social Media effort, like any other competitive effort, it makes sense to find out who your competition is going to be.
Here’s what you may find when you query Whois: Let’s say that you find out that your competitors website has a technical contact at an Ad agency. That agency created their website and on THIER website they indicate that they built and manage the Social Media for your competitor as well. Most agencies probably do not have as intimate a level of knowledge as you do internally within your own company. Social Media Engagement is, in many ways, similar to customer service and sales functions. So what happens when one of your salespeople tells to you “Our competitor just hired some kid out of college and he don’t know much about their products” At that point you know it’s going to take some time for the learning curve to happen. You now have a window of opportunity even though your competitor may have had a Twitter account for Facebook page a long time before you. Just because they have a Social Media presence doesn’t mean they know how to use it.
IMAGE 1: Tangled web: The image above shows the hierarchical structure of the Internet, based on the connections between individual nodes (such as service providers). Three distinct regions are apparent: an inner core of highly connected nodes, an outer periphery of isolated networks, and a mantle-like mass of peer-connected nodes. The bigger the node, the more connections it has. Those nodes that are closest to the center are connected to more well-connected nodes than are those on the periphery. ~ Lanet-vi program of I. Alvarez-Hamelin et al.
IMAGE 2: Domain Name Extentions http://myriambahi.com/?tag=new-gtld
IMAGE 3: ICANN Internic logo: http://bostinno.com/2011/03/29/the-future-of-local-search-utility-and-how-todays-services-fall-short/