Social media are for business

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Social Media Club

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I just remembered when during the Social Media Club meeting one journalist was saying not to believe the internet would be there in a couple of years time this myst have been naivity or was he just closing his eyes as a change was imminent? Media are business nowadays and nobody can hide from that fact. The numbers are convincing enough – and business is about numbers. Media are business – so about numbers.

The romantism of working in media will be diffent in the near future. We don’t work on a typewriter for a long time and the print is not made with lead shapes anymore. It’s getting to be about people and people only. The distance that existed traditionally between the journalist and the audience is to disappear, we will work in the centre of the society, surrounded by people who are our sources and the audience at the same time. Get used to it. It’s the only way.

‘Duty-content’ king?

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Crowd 65

Image by Bruce MacRae via Flickr

During the workshop of Social Media Club Utrecht, Netherlands, on 29th June 2011 the theme was Social Media and journalism. Elvira van Noort emphasised that during her internship in 2005, various journalists did not believe in internet at all and that the editorial desks of the internet and print departments were separated. Nowadays, the line between journalist work and the citizen or community is getting thin. However, a task of the journalists is to verify and check the content the community provides and thus adding reliability. Turned around, the community can make the journalists work for them by sending messages the journalists should act upon. Aart Lensink of LVB Networks was worried about the ‘duty-content’ – the stream of comparable content that was produced by organisations that want to have content for the sake of it. A blurb of words, optimised to be found in Google but by its un-originality the result was opposite. But do the ‘official’ media loose their position? It is clear that suppliers, the business, seem to get closer to the professionals compared to the professional media which are disappearing. The latter can be caused by the business model of controlled circulation and advertising which declined. When at the same time the suppliers and professionals have the means to share their experience themselves, the parallel movements make that the information structure changes. Forever.

What’s wrong with Social Media?

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Social Media: Changing Business

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

This time I keep it to the point, and dedicate my words to 10 Popular Misconceptions about Social Media. Especially people working in media seem to have difficulties really understand their meaning.

  1. Lunch and other irrelevant talk – there are so many people with their preferences that there is enough to share. What is irrelevant for you may be important to know for some-one else. There’s also a ‘mood’ indicator!
  2. Twitter as a business doesn’t make money so isn’t a viable business – there are more businesses that don’t make money and still are significant. The value of Twitter is based on the number of users quite important.
  3. LinkedIn is for business, Facebook for personal contacts. Some-one missed out here on the business cases now made on Facebook. Why do you think businesses are creating Facebook pages? To reach their client base and perhaps even give service or a branding.
  4. Social networks are time consuming – I just twitter wherever I am, whenever I do. Just need an internet connection on the phone. Some people do not understand that even the time that a computer needs to start up, find a servcr or a file, can be used to communicate. So it can make lost time useful.
  5. Sharing is for exhibitionists. Sharing is a gift and can help other people. I like helping other people, don’t you really? And of course, I like to show when I am doing fun things. Not that weird…
  6. 140 characters is not enough for meaningful messages. It forces you to trim the message down to the point. This is an important skill.
  7. You can’t make money on Twitter. I know quite some businesses that make a lot of money on Twitter. Twitter helps my business… don’t you think my follower base of more than 2300 does not have potential? Wine merchand @slijterijmeisje makes a significant part of her revenues on Twitter – and if there was nothing to earn here, we would not have that many spam messages either.
  8. Does age matter? Simply said: no.
  9. Information overload. It just compacts the information and helps it channel. I don’t mind.
  10. It’s just for nerds and geeks. Don’t think so – judge for yourself.

It’s easy to take a mickey out of social media. It’s there for stay and as you see here: social media is more or less put on Twitter. You can reach a lot of important people for business through LinkedIn, access information using Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Twitter contacts – just mention #twitterhelp if you have a question to answer! If people don’t see the point in social media, it just characterises themselves. Just see and use them as a tool. It will broaden your world and push you forward. Maybe not immediately but you will get there.

The spirit of the community

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Shopping district Noordse Bosje

Image via Wikipedia

A personal story this time. Through Twitter, I came in touch with a former colleague – a photograher of a weekly newspaper where I was the editor in chief (Stadskrant Veghel). Years ago. Through the Twitter connection we said hello but it was for me the incentive to invite her for a cup of coffee. Fixing a date is the next challenge, so she came up with a meeting of the Social Media Club in the region, SMC0413. This was good as for me, it was an incentive to meet other people, like a girl I used to play squash with and other former colleagues. And of course, I could meet new people with one common characteristic: social media.

It was a great meeting and I wondered if there was a Social Media Club in the region where I live. Yes, Amsterdam but the waiting list of their meetings usually is longer than the available space. A no-go. Then Hilversum, the media city of The Netherlands. None! I couldn’t believe it. So I made a call on Twitter for social media people around the city to join SMC035 – and we created a LinkedIn group SMC035. As more or less immedately, I found people who wanted to help giving the SMC 035 a shape. I was amazed that on the first day the LinkedIn group was created, we got about 16 members, actually (over the week-end) the number is 24. And quite some of them like to help organising the events. This is a good spirit, that’s what I like about social media: getting things done, spontaneously, and with other people. Everything is possible as long as you are open for it!

Added value: new contacts

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Along Pall Mall, London

Image by Scorpions and Centaurs via Flickr

Sometimes it is for a journalist a struggle to get hold of the information. This is changing with Twitter and more broadly, social media. I would not know what to do without the existence of LinkedIn as well to find people or information. These two networks offer me contacts and information at a fingertip and more importantly: they are easily available. It is possible to find out more references, check out who will be the right person to approach for a blog, a contribution in a magazine, a presentation for a professional organisation or just to answer a question. And I keep the options open: if anybody likes to get to me for more information, I’m available. Of course without opening the books for confi stuff, that is obvious. And it is an opening to learn more, also discovering fascinating professionals in the same discipline, for example in the community managers group (in the Netherlands). It opens up to more ideas, and gives the opportunity to share experiences as well. Or through a contact, you discover a local group of social media enthusiasts with various backgrounds. Broadening up, finding more resources, opening up your mind. That is another effect that social media have to me.

If you are in the UK, I like to point out a special social network: the Netlinked groups. They have an original base in LinkedIn and they actually gather regularly in real life according to an agenda that ressembles a LinkedIn group: news, profile, an LinkedIn eye-opener, announcements and referrals. During the meeting which takes an afternoon, you are encouraged to speak about who you are looking for and often, from the group there already are suggestions made. This is extremely powerful. Our first meeting was a couple of months ago in the Institute of Directors at the Pall Mall, London. We were surprised and decided to go more often, and joined. Once joined, you have access to more advanced LinkedIn tuition and to all NetLinked groups. Something worth thinking of if you want to work online and in the real world. Because in the end, it’s the people that count.

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