• The Pepper Shaker

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Peppercorn #6: Google +

In my daily life, my thoughts hardly seem prophetic. But I got to hand it to myself…I think I got something right. On my post about the future of Facebook on December 15, 2010, I made the following conclusion:

“Finally, many many years from now, a revolution will occur. A new social media platform will begin, and what will start as a few will end up in a mass migration to the new platform just for something different.”

Just to prove it, here’s the link: “Facebook: The World Within”

Two weeks ago, Google released a trial version of Google +, basically it’s own social media platform. It presents itself a bit different than Facebook, though, and these differences will either be loved or hated.

1. The first difference is the idea that Facebook feels like a giant party where your posts are proclaimed to everyone in the room. Google+, on the other hand, feels more like a dinner party. You share your comments only within the circles that you desire. You can place people in any number of circles to make sure you get the word out to right people.

2. Google+ is interoperable across many other Google related tools, including Gmail, Blogger, Wave, and Picasa. It’s pretty neat to see how they all work together.

3. It’s new, and it is fairly clean and nice to look at. No ads (yet), no extra frills, no Farmville or any other thing to confuse you. It’s straight and to the point. The layout and pictures are crisp and work well together.

4. It’s fun to start over. There’s just something refreshing about it.

 

Does this mean Facebook is doomed? I doubt it. I think that most people, especially older folks, will stay put on Facebook. Younger users will continue to check their friends’ statuses and post albums. It would take a lot more and many years to bring over 500 million people from Facebook over to Google+. I don’t see it happening very quickly. In the meantime, Google+ will be used by early adopting social media lovers and techies who get excited about this kind of thing. Are you one of them?

 

Peppercorn #5: SlideShare

SlideShare is awesome! Think of YouTube, but for presentations. Here, you can upload your presentation decks and share them with the world. It works like most social media sites, too, where viewers can give ratings, leave comments, create your own channel, and share the presentation on other sites. And something unique: SlideShare has yearly contests for the best slideshows, rewarding winners with a MacBook Pro and Kindles.

If you are a company looking for a way to share your expertise in a professional yet creative way, SlideShare is where to go.  You can better demonstrate your company opinion or share specific ideas  with a presentation than you can with videos or articles. They are educational, helping viewers remember messages better.

I loved this presentation. I never thought of marketing myself through a slideshow presentation, but this proves me wrong. I think I might try doing the following!

Peppercorn #4: YouTube

YouTube is the most powerful video search in the world. Millions of videos have been uploaded to the site, and users can find them easily. The site tracks how many times videos have been watched, allow for ratings and comments, and even makes suggestions for you as you browse.

I wondered recently what video has been watched the most – of all time. Go ahead and take a wild guess. When you are ready to find out, check out the top 10 YouTube videos ever at this site.

Paul, Kevin and Winnie on "The Wonder Years"

When I think of YouTube, I remember a scene from the old television comedy, “The Wonder Years.” In fact, it’s the only distinct scene I can remember. In it, Kevin wants to ask Winnie to an upcoming school dance. He wants badly to go with her, but thinks she will already be taken or if not, that she’ll refuse. One day, Kevin and his best friend Paul are seated at the end of a very long table in a crowded cafeteria. He struggles at first saying anything until he finally divulges his intentions to his friend while eating lunch. Then, without Kevin knowing, Paul shares the scoop with his friend next to him, who shares it with the next person, who shares it across the table, until it goes allllll the way to other end of a long line of classmates. Kevin notices and immediately worries that his secret is out. He’s in awe as he says  “the rumor ripple unfolded before my eyes!”

YouTube is kind of like a rumor ripple. It gets passed and shared, everyone has their own opinion and the clip gets passed and shared again. It gets posted here, attached there, linked everywhere. And no matter how hard you try, you will always get good, bad, and even ugly comments. That’s just the nature of the beast. So when you put something on YouTube, make sure it’s worth sharing.

Peppercorn #3: LinkedIn

Things are changing out there, even with the way you network with colleagues and find jobs with contacts. Have you ever wanted to bring employers to you, instead of having to track down employers? Have you ever wanted to deal with people when applying for job, instead of automated responses that come from nowhere? Or have you ever remembered somebody that worked at a place you are now interested in, but can’t remember who it was? Enter LinkedIn.

Personally, you will be able to put everything professional about yourself on your profile. Don’t be shy or think you’re bragging either, because when it comes to LinkedIn, it’s all about making your work and education history shine. You’ll find and connect – kind of like becoming someone’s “friend” on LinkedIn – with people you know, connecting you to a whole multitude of pros.

For businesses, PR managers and specialists can create groups, (they most often go by the company name,) where people who have worked or are currently working can stay in the know about job openings or updates. With groups, you can also start discussions. If the questions are right, you can gather good opinions from those inside and out of your company.

There are already over 60 million LinkedIn users. I find that many of them are in communications/journalism/advertising/PR/politics and the like. So get connected!

Peppercorn #2: Twitter

No, it’s not just for celebrities. Nor is it just a place for rants or people with too much time. At least, that was my initial understanding of it, until I really dived into what Twitter was all about.

Twitter is all about very current trending topics. It’s about what is going on right NOW. No…now…wait, NOW…..no…NOW! What’s popular or newsworthy seems to change just that fast. A lot of what you will read will seem like incoherent gibberish, so choose who you follow carefully.

If you are a professional,  (PR professionals and other executives especially,) you are going to want to find people in your field. See what they are saying, read the links they attach, and start to retweet the ones you like. You’ll eventually start saying your own things and sharing your own links.

Top 10 Twitter Trends - Courtesy of Mashable.com

Mashable.com produces a weekly chart of Twitter’s trending topics. They have a way of measuring what the millions of people are tweeting about, and rank the top 10.

Last week, for example, the top 10 stories included the movies “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and “Inception”, as well as Brazilian politics, soccer, and Justin Bieber. These change from week to week, but you will see that some topics are consistently popular.

So, for you to successfully use Twitter, follow those in your field, journalists who report on topics you want to hear about, and other opinion leaders relevant to your line of interest. Follow them, and many will follow you back, creating a relationship between you two.

Peppercorn #1: Facebook

Yes, Facebook, the Social Media Giant.  With more than 500 million users, it’s only appropriate you are familiar with this one first. Adding this robust peppercorn to your pepper shaker is easily the first big step into the social media world.

Facebook is a venue where keen businessmen and women can push their brand in a atmosphere that is open, friendly, and usually willing to read what you have to say. However, it all depends on your approach. Businesses shouldn’t think that once they create a “Company Page”  everything will work out on its own. It takes loads of work to reach out to different areas (to ones you are most interested in.) Look at the picture below to see how, even within Facebook, there are different markets. This one is organized by geography:

Start becoming friends and reaching out with customers and employees that know you. It will create a base of friends that will demonstrate your page is legitimate.

Finally, this article has some great ideas on how to best build your brand on Facebook. Consider going through it, especially if you are about to bring your brand into social media.

Introducing “Peppercorns”

Look at the picture below:

Chances are, you know a few of these social media resources. You probably casually use 2-3 of them.

But as you can tell, the field of social media is vast and intense – more complicated than status updates or posting pictures. It is an orchard of various trees that produces the fruit that feeds both the casual consumer and public relations executive.

“Peppercorns” will feature one of these sites periodically. I’ll summarize it and talk about how they are useful. There are many more social  sites than you see in this image, but because social media is all about connecting to your audience in advanced ways, gaining a knowledge of them will be like tools in your toolbox.

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