Welcome Frost & Sullivan eBulletin Readers

A few weeks ago I got a Facebook message from Caryn Brown from Frost & Sullivan, saying that she wanted to feature my blog as a “Recommended Read” in the eBulletin, a quarterly electronic publication for past participants in Sales and Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. (I guess they ordinarily feature a book in this section.) I asked Caryn to let me know when the eBulletin would be distributed, so I could welcome you properly and share links to some of the posts I’ve done about Frost & Sullivan events. She kindly obliged, so here’s a quick intro to Social Media University, Global — or SMUG.

SMUG is the University of Phoenix without the football stadium…or the tuition…or the accreditation. It’s a place for lifelong learners to get hands-on experience with social media tools, which are changing the way people communicate.

With well over 100 million blogs and upwards of 68 million active users of Facebook, I’ve said previously that for PR professionals, unfamiliarity with these tools borders on malpractice. The same is true for those involved in sales and marketing.

Especially when you can learn about them for free!

Continue reading “Welcome Frost & Sullivan eBulletin Readers”

10 Tips for Promoting Your Business Through Social Networks

Monte Enbysk, a senior editor at Microsoft Office Live, called a couple of weeks ago asking to interview me for an Office Hours column on using social networking sites to promote your business. I had a delightful conversation with Monte, and he just notified me that his article is now available online, here. Here’s an excerpt:

Are social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn the business tools of the future? Or are they a passing fad that will meet the same fate as disco music?

Time will tell. But if you run a small business circa 2008, ignore them at your own peril. Many of your competitors have already jumped on the bandwagon, and are successfully networking their way to a stronger Web presence, enhanced credibility, and more customers.

Yes, many of these sites are used for socializing by your teenaged sons and daughters. But businesses can benefit too, says Lee Aase, a veteran media relations manager. His employer, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has put him in charge of articulating the clinic’s message through social networking sites such as Facebook.

“The way that most businesses grow is by word of mouth, by recommendations, and by peers and communities,” says Aase, who writes articles and blog posts about marketing through Facebook. “The whole concept of social media is a lot like birds of a feather flocking together” — in other words, people with a common interest or objective interacting online, he says.

I recommend that you check out the rest of the rest of the article, in which you’ll get 10 helpful tips. Monte wrote this from the perspective of a small business owner, but I believe the tips are just as applicable for larger organizations. And even if you work for a larger company, you have a personal brand to enhance, too. You should learn how you can do that effectively through social networking sites.

Others Monte interviewed included Jinger Jarrett and Leslie O’Flahavan.

For further reading, I recommend Social Media 104: Intro to Social Networking, which is part of the core curriculum for Social Media University, Global (SMUG).

Social Media 104: Intro to Social Networking

Note:  Social Media 104 is part of the Core Curriculum for Social Media University, Global (SMUG).

Visiting Professor and honorary SMUG doctoral candidate Lee LeFever, whose material also has been indispensable in Social Media 102: Intro to RSS and Social Media 103: Intro to Wikis, again has a “Plain English” video to introduce new users to the benefits of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Watch it:


If you want to use social networking sites for business purposes, here are a few introductory tips about each of the top three sites:

  • “MySpace is for middle schoolers.” That’s the assessment of my youngest daughter, the wise-beyond-her-years high school junior. It’s an overstatement, but it does match the demographic reality that the MySpace demographic skews young. Which is why it’s a bit disturbing to me that on MySpace I get far more porn spam “friend” requests than anything else. MySpace claims a much larger user base than Facebook, but somehow I doubt that Alla, Alyson, Anna, Clarice, Esperanza, Estella, Evelyn, Gertrude, Ivy, Jaymie, Judy, Judith, Jennifer, Karan, Keeley, Mertie, Michaela, Maritza, Norine, Nisha, Patricia, Ramona, Traci, Thelma, Vanessa, Valeria and Zada are real people. But if you are an aspiring musician or otherwise want to reach a young fan base, you may want to have MySpace in your mix. For example, my friend Scott Meis with the Donate Life Illinois initiative to increase organ donation has found MySpace a great way to reach young people with his message.
  • LinkedIn is the most popular strictly professional networking site. I call it “Social Networking without the social.” I know others swear by it, and I’m happy to be a member, but I don’t see it involving its users as much as either Facebook or MySpace do. If you work for a professional services firm and are looking to do hardcore networking, LinkedIn could be great. It gives you ability to provide and ask for references and recommendations.
  • Facebook, with its Ivy League college roots, strikes a nice balance between the two. It’s far less susceptible to spam than MySpace is. I’ve devoted a whole section of this blog to Facebook business uses, so for Social Media 104 students who want to read ahead for extra credit, go to the Facebook Business page.

Homework Assignments:

  1. Visit my MySpace page. If you want to send me a friend invite, that would be great to actually have some non-spam requests. I don’t spend much time in MySpace, though, so if we want to have a SMUG class about MySpace, we probably should have a guest instructor. Any volunteers? If you think I haven’t been fair to the biggest social networking site, I’d be glad to accept a guest post about the advantages of MySpace. If you want to create a MySpace page to get more hands-on experience, that gets you extra credit, too, but it’s optional.
  2. Create a LinkedIn profile. Find at least five current or former work colleagues and add them to your network.
  3. Join Facebook. This is a remedial assignment, as it was part of Social Media 101, but if you haven’t completed this step yet, now is a great time to do it. Then you can enroll in SMUG and Friend me.

Class Discussion

Answer the following in the comments below: 

  1. Which social networking sites have you joined?
  2. Do you find one of them more useful than the others for your business purposes?
  3. If so, which one, and why?
  4. Do you belong to a social networking site not mentioned above? Which one(s)? Why do you find it helpful?

Facebook Friend Grouping – Finally!

I’ve said previously that grouping of friends within Facebook was an inevitable new feature because of the very logic of the service, and that this would substantially aid Facebook’s effort to edge out LinkedIn as the place for both professional and personal networking. If Facebook wants to accurately represent the “social graph” it needs to enable users to account for the fact that some friends are closer than others.

Facebook users got some great news just before Christmas (and in my family time off, with three straight days of Christmas visitors I haven’t been blogging, so I’m just getting around to writing about it.) Facebook has implemented the first phase of friend grouping, and it’s really well done.

Applications like “Top Friends” and “Circle of Friends” are fine, but the problem is they are out there for everyone to see. So if you add someone to a group using one of those applications, everyone who has access to your profile can see who is in what groups.

The best thing about the new baked-in friend grouping in Facebook is that it’s private. I’ve created five new friend groups, for example, but they’re only visible to me. So I can organize my Facebook friends in a way that makes sense to me, which enables me to have various spheres that reflect the reality of how close we are.

The other neat new part of the Facebook friend grouping is the ability to send a group message to everyone in the group. Here’s a message I sent earlier today to my Family friends.


I found through sending this message that when you send a message to a group, every recipient sees the name of every other recipient. They don’t necessarily find out the name of the group list you’ve created, but they can “reply all” to all of the other members.

So, in essence, this is a great way to create a messaging distribution list, to take advantage of the spam-fighting features of Facebook. It makes it more realistic to rely on Facebook as a messaging alternative to email.

The even better news about this development of variable friend grouping in  Facebook is that now we know there will be further enhancements related to these groups. As Mark Slee concluded his post in the Facebook blog:

This is just a start. Expect to see lots of new Friend Lists features in 2008 that will give you more control over the information you share on Facebook and who you share it with.

When this becomes reality, and when we can truly segregate the personal from the professional within Facebook so that professional friends won’t have complete access to our personal lives, then we will see Facebook achieve its goal of being the one-stop social utility. Then, as Nick says, sites like LinkedIn will find the competition much more difficult.