ThingLink…If an image could sound

The photos above and below are part of a transformation that I’m helping promote. I work with ThingLink but I’m also a musician. And a lucky one that I get to pioneer something I feel is truly new, innovative and important. Like lots of indie musicians, I’m always looking for new ways to promote and share information about my music. In this case, I’m promoting my debut CD, Sacred Love. Now this is a post about images but I get to be the star too — so check out the photo below. I’m bronzed like Hans Solo in Star Trek. You’ll notice small dots inside the image. They are called ThingLinks: in-image links from inside this photo to any place I choose. The tags act like channels to information I want to share. The tags are easy to set up with a description (250 characters) and URL. In this case, I set up ThingLinks to my blog, my latest press release, my Twitter and Facebook pages, to my photographer’s website, and there’s a surprise. There is a Sound Player embedded in this image. Click on the play button and my song, Edge of Eternal, plays. That is cool! So for musicians like me, that photo – which I was only able to observe before – has become something more than a beautiful composite by photographer Mario Covic. It’s now an information wallet I can share throughout my social network. Here are some things I can do with Thinglinked images that help me socialize me images:

  • Announce my ThingLinked photo to friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter, and email a link. Fans can do the same. If ‘m lucky, I made a new fan. Thanks to this ThingLinked photo.
  • Embed a photo with ThingLinks… in my other blogs and websites. The links stay in the image. And fans can share it, too.
  • Allow readers to add their OWN ThingLinks to the image. I wonder where fans would place links.
  • Receive stats from ThingLink (as part of a free account) on how many people are interacting with my images with views, hovers and clicks.

Try hovering your mouse over the image and I put links into – and see what comes up. After you sign up at ThingLink.com, you add three lines of code to your blog or website page. ThingLink works on websites and blogging platforms. If you’re hosting a WordPress site, there is a beta ThingLink plug-in that you can download via WordPress. Have fun and share your stories.

NOTE: This post was reprinted from ShambhuMusic.com – my music blog.

Rules Of Social Media Optimization

Rules Of Social Media Optimization

Author: Blogging Social

SMM = Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is strategically using the big social sites to spread your brand name or drive traffic back to your web presence.
SMO = Social Media Optimization
Social Media Optimization is adding key elements to your websites or content that make them easy to spread across the big social sites.

Rohit Bhargava Developed Social Media Optimization Rules 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
1. Increase your linkability
Linkability is the willingness of other websites or articles to link back to your site. One way to increase your natural Google listing is to increase how many authority sites link to you, so to increase your linkability with social media optimization is to make your site more informative and useful to others. You can do this in many ways; blog, white papers, press releases, keyword targeted articles, RSS feeds, etc. This is the most important step in Social Media Optimization and should be your first priority.
2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy
The act of tagging is to bookmark the website to social bookmarking websites. For example, if you like the content or services provided at a website you tag it. This will show others that you approve of this site and they will check it out, making viral traffic. To include social media optimization tagging on your site, you can add tagging links such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Technorati, etc. Also, add the tagging links to other pages in your site (not just the homepage) and when visitors click the tag button make sure that there is a suggestion box to help your visitor list a relevant tag and notes.

3. Reward inbound links
As I mentioned before one way to increase your natural listing with Google using social media optimization is to get more back links. You can do this by rewarding people/websites that link to you (inbound links). Inbound links are links that send people to your site from somewhere else. One way to reward people for linking to your site is to have a “Recently Linked” that lists all of the websites that have linked to you.

4. Help your content travel
Social media optimization focuses on providing useful content to your market. When you publish content such as an article, video, or audio file you must help it reach as many people on the web as possible. You can do this by submitting to relevant high traffic websites. When the word gets out about your great content (no matter what format) you’ll receive backlinks to your site.
5. Encourage the mashup
To mash up is to use two websites content and mash them together. For example, Youtube makes it easy to mash their content (videos) onto your site. In addition, because it is so easy you have added a video to your site that has a Youtube logo on the video as well as a link back to you tube. So to encourage a mashup with social media optimization is to make it easy for other websites to use your content and reference it to drive traffic back to your site.
Jeremiah Owyang Developed Social Media Optimization Rules 6 and 7

6. Be a User Resource, even if it doesn’t help you.
One thing all visitors appreciate is honesty. With social media optimization you should include links to other websites that will help your visitor reach their goal or find the information they want. Do this, even when it doesn’t benefit you. By linking to competitors or information not created by you, you reap the benefits of having the all inclusive information on a particular topic. In the end, more people will link to you because you have lumped all information (or links) on a topic on one location.

7. Reward helpful and valuable users
Valuable users are your best friends. A valuable user can be determined in many ways; they may send traffic to your site, add valuable content to your site, or assist visitors at your site. No matter what their doing, if it benefits you, your site, or your service you need to reward them. This could be by sending a personal message thanking them for their dedication. Other ways to reward your valuable users is to create reward systems, advertise for them or promote their efforts on your homepage.
Cameron Olthuis Developed Social Media Optimization Rules 8, 9, 10, and 11

8. Participate
With Social Media Optimization you can participate by joining on the conversation about your topic (or targeted keyword). Simply posting articles and sharing content isn’t going to keep the buzz going. You should continue to share information on other websites. This participation will share your knowledge with more people. One way to do this is to find people that are blogging on your topic and to give input on the conversation. Also, participate in forums or other social groups that are discussing your topic. Read comments on your articles, videos, and audios and respond to them.

9. Know how to target your audience
Social media marketing is about sharing content/information. Not everyone is interested in your topic, so be sure to do your marketing research and post your information and knowledge where it will be understood and appreciated.

10. Create content
Content is considered to be any form on information that benefits a visitor. Content can be a white paper, article, video, audio, widget, the list goes on. Your job is to find a piece of content that will spark interest in visitors. No matter what market you enter there is always a form of content that they will share with others. Find out what it is and give it to them. This will in turn have them coming back for more useful content. If this happens, then you know that your social media optimization is successful.

11. Be real
Internet users are searching the web for specific content. If you are providing content that links back to a website, be sure that the website is relevant. You will not be rewarded for coaxing a visitor to a site that has nothing to do with the content they just read (or watched depending on the type of content you provided).
Loren Baker developed Social Media Optimization Rules 12 and 13

12. Don’t forget your roots, be humble
It’s easy to let popularity get to your head. When you become the shining star in your market be sure to recognize those that helped you get to the front of the pack. (this ties into #7 a little)

13. Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh.
Any one on the internet knows how quickly things change. Keep up with new media content, new types of websites, and new interests in your market. By staying on top of new information you can maintain top rankings.
Lee Odden developed Social Media Optimization Rules 14, 15 and 16

14. Develop a Social Media Optimization strategy
Social Media serves multiple purposes. You need to identify what your purpose is and then publish content that will promote that purpose. Some purposes for Social Media Optimization include: branding, reputation, charity, increase traffic, build reputation, increase sales, credibility, etc. Make sure that as you develop content that you are publishing and creating with that purpose in mind.

15. Choose your SMO tactics wisely.
Of all the content available on the web only about 10% of people on the web are content creators. The other 90% are consumers and are willing to share your content. Make your content easy to consume and spread. Also be sure to create content that will have the most impact on your original purpose (which could be any of the following: branding, reputation, charity, increase traffic, build reputation, increase sales, credibility, etc).

16. Make Social Media Optimization – SMO part of your process and best practices.
We all know that there are specific Search engine optimization tactics that every website should include. Just as you include keywords in your title tags and keywords in your H1 tag, you should find ways to include social media optimization aspects into the building of your website. This can be small details like including social bookmark tags on your site or encouraging incoming links with the “recently Linked” list I covered in #3.

17. Don’t be afraid to let go of a message or idea and let others own it.
Finally, when you create a movement, spark and idea, or develop a new topic don’t be afraid to let others run with it. Collaboration is key. Others can improve upon your original idea and give you credit for the start. Be sure to give credit where it’s due.

About the AuthorFoundUB4 is a small, yet focused social media agency Barrie is a Social Media Specialist with experience in social media optimisation  Extremely technical and passionate about search marketing in its entirety.

Getting Things Done with Social Media

Recently an app called Field Agent was released which connects clients (people in need of information) with field agents (people who are positioned to retrieve it).  A client posts a job to a site, for example “how much are my competitors charging for X service at Y store.”  The client also posts the reward, typically between 2 and 8 dollars.  A field agent (anyone who has downloaded the app) can then accept the job and will have a certain amount of time to deliver.  On delivery they receive the reward, and feedback on their performance by way of a scoring system.

Missions could be anything: recording a street musician’s performance, taking a photo of a competitor’s billboard, seeing how the sushi bar across town presents their California Rolls, staking out your favorite celebrities’ favorite coffee shop so you can ‘bump’ into them, or getting your lunch delivered to you at the office.  Any other ideas? Post to comments.

This is a great example of how social media can be used to network people who fulfill each others needs.  I foresee this as being the first of many services that create profitable relationships between people who were previously strangers.

How Social Media Changed Comcast

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast discusses how its use of social media, especially twitter, changed its culture as a company.

Infographic: How Mobile Phones are Changing Social Media

More great work from  Flowtown.com, this an info-graphic depicting how mobile phones are adding to social media use.  What’s most interesting to me is that the largest demographic accessing social media are individual from 25-34, or career aged people.  Entrepreneurs have seemed to adopt social media more enthusiastically than any other group, and this info seems to support that.

Enlarge [Redirects to Flowtown.com]

Are All URL Shorteners Created Equal?

URL shorteners are a great way to add links to social media profiles and monitor the traffic that clicks through.  But what if your link shortener didn’t work?  What if by choosing the wrong service you lost clicks, clients, and potential revenue?  Web analytics firm WatchMouse decided to put the URL shortener services to the test.  Here are there results:

On the positive side:

  • URL shorteners obviously provide useful features like making a long URL shorter (i.e. so it fits easily in a Twitter message)
  • They enable you to track and analyze clicks on a specific short URL
  • Some URL shorteners like twt.tl also provide some browsing safety by analyzing the target URL for harmful website code or phishing attempts

But on the negative side, URL shorteners also introduce:

  • An additional single point of failure: when a URL shortener service is down (or corrupt) the link won’t work
  • Additional load time for a page to fully load

WatchMouse monitored the most popular URL shorteners for one month to find out how they are doing in terms of availability and speed. During that time we monitored 14 URL shorteners and collected the uptime and performance statistics. The uptime results are shown in the chart below:

Based on the results, the fastest, most reliable shortener is Google’s goo.gl.  Twt.tl is a close second.  youtu.be has the fastest overall speed, but isn’t as reliable as the first two. The worst? Facebook’s fb.me.  Steer clear of that one.

Fortune 100 Social Media Practices

The power of social media is undeniable.  The major challenge entrepreneurs are faced is with answering the question: what constitutes effective social media use?  It’s easy to assume that the attention invested doesn’t have a tangible on the bottom line.  While social media doesn’t necessarily generate revenue, it does link people together.  You can get yourself, your product, and your message out there and connect with other like minded business people and potential customers.  This is the true power of social media.  Building connections.  When it comes down to it, that’s what good business is about: how well you connect with people.  Ethan Bloch of Flowtown.com recently created an info graphic showing how effective businesses, in this case the Fortune 100, use social media to connect to the world:

Ever wonder how big businesses are leveraging social media? Burson-Martseller recently released a report highlighting the Fortune Global 100 companies and how they were using social platforms including: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We have complied a graphic illustrating the most interesting of their findings:

Read more at Flowtown

Connect with Flowtown on Facebook, Twitter

Social Media for Good: Earthquake Person Finder

Google has recently launched a social networking utility to bring together victims of the Chilean Earthquake and their lost loved ones.  The site gives users two options 1) I’m looking for someone, or 2) I have information about someone.  Once entered all data becomes search-able, and provides a database which shelters or individuals can access to determine family’s whereabouts.  As of publication the record count is 47 thousand.

This a great example of how social media can make a real impact in people’s lives.  What are other ways social media could be used to provide aid to those who need it?

Social Media Meets Personal Finance with Blippy

Blippy.com is an idea spawned by Ashvin Kumar, Chris Estreich, and Philip J. Kaplan that is being called “The Twitter of Personal Finance.”  The site posts the purchases you make to a live feed, which other users can then comment on and ask questions about.  Potential applications are limitless, but a few that come to mind are: finding the best deals on consumer electronics, finding out about new wines friends are purchasing, getting movie recommendations based on member’s Netflix activity, and finding new music based on friend’s iTunes purchases.  Critics say that the site exposes too much personal information.  What’s your opinion?

OpenForum.com on Blippy in their article
The 5 Most Innovative New Online Business Models in 2010:

If you don’t live your life in social media, the idea behind Blippy will likely confuse you. It is a social site that lets people automatically share the latest things they have purchased (and how much they paid for them) by linking the site to a single credit card. This level of transparency and sharing may seem crazy to many people, but the site represents a social experiment that points to an interesting opportunity for businesses whose customers may be used to sharing every small detail of their lives. It may be an outlier in this list of business models as they admittedly don’t have a revenue model for the site as yet – but the shift in what people are willing to share online is the real trend worth watching.

Social Media Analytics 101: 4 Articles, 1 Service

Social Media can be a nebulous mistress.  As entrepreneurs continue to use social media to connect with customers and collaborators, a new question has come into being: what are effective social media practices?  The fact is no one knows for certain, but there is a way to measure what is effective and what isn’t: social media analytics.  SM (Social Media) can be frustrating to manage without information helping get into your client’s heads.  Here We’ve compiled a review of the top four How To articles, plus one paid service that will take care of the headache for you.  Enjoy!

HOW TO: Track Social Media Analytics, Mashable.com ♥♥♥♥♥ Five Heart Rating

This is a great starting point.  Its simple, quick to read, and provides lots of leads for those who want to deepen their understanding of analytics in a short time.  Topics include: understanding what you want to track,optimizing your existing analytics software, adding new analytics tools, aggregating your analytics, analyzing and engaging visitors, and further resources.

How to Measure and Track Social Media Activity, SEOROI.com ♥♥♥♥ Four Heart Rating

An orientation into the world of Social Media Analytics, this article uses the practices of people like Guy Kawasaki to get you started down the SM path.  Great list of resources at the end.

Social Media Analytics, webanalysis.blogspot.com ♥♥ Two Heart Rating

This guide differs from the others in that it explicitly defines the measurable elements involved in social media, as well as providing vision examples of analytics tools in action.  Another list of resources at the end.

Dear Avinash: Search / SEO Metrics & Analytics Questions + Answers, kaushik.net ♥♥♥♥♥ Five Heart Rating

Avinash Kaushik provides great, thoughful, high impact answers to various questions.  This is a great place to gain a basic understanding of SM analytics, as well as learn some advanced tricks.  For more advanced information be sure to check out  Five Sweet Web Analytics Resolutions To Kick It Up A Notch, another great article.  Kaushik has a great sense of humor, and uses off the wall visuals to keep things exciting.

Want to outsource you SM Analytics? Use ViralHeat.com

Viral Heat has monitoring plans starting at only $9.99 per month.  This will keep you up to date on the popularity and efficacy of you social media campaigns.  Visit the site, or watch the video to learn more.

I hope this provides you with a toe-hold to begin in the Social Media Analytics world.  Who knows, maybe you’re the next Kevin Rose?

Have a question?  Post it to comments, I’ll do my best to answer.