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Social Media Adds Quality Because It’s Personal

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

“Social Media has created a human filter for quality content,” writes Vadim Lavrusik for Mashable. It’s the lede of his article on “Why Social Media Reinvigorates the Market for Quality Journalism.”

I’d like to take the premise a step further, because social media really reinvigorates the market for nearly everything.

Just as ten years ago, Google made it easier than ever to search for something online, now with social media it’s easier than ever to get a friend’s or acquaintance’s opinion to help you make a better decision.  That decision could be any number of things, from the meaningful decisions we seek guidance on every day, to the less meaningful ways to spend five minutes on the internet: looking at a captioned picture of cats, watching a video of a adolescent girl turning to the Dark Side, reading an article of what happens next in the latest Facebook lawsuit.

In both respects, social media is raising the quality of sharing information. There are funnier times being spent on the internet and more informed decisions are being made every day.  Just recently, a couple of friends were looking to buy a new car. They turned to Facebook and their friends there and ended up making a great purchase.  Then a week later, a mutual friend was starting his new car purchase.  He was told to look back to the previous advice shared on the social network and is closing in on making his decision as well.

We can trust the personal recommendations that our friends make because they are friends. Similarly, there’s a growing value in the social media space because of that human filter for quality content. We don’t have to rely on an algorithm; we can rely on a person. In social media, if someone makes a bad recommendation or if that link just wasn’t funny enough, it’s easy to unfollow them. Similarly, if someone keeps making quality suggestions and gives informed opinions, it’ll be easier to take their advice when looking to make the more meaningful decisions we often face.

The ups and downs of social networks and where it stands now

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

There’s some great information to be had in a new infographic making the rounds today. Click on the image to the right to see it full-sized.

One of the most interesting bits, taken from the data, is that there seems to be a search plateau over the last two years.  People are still joining social networks at high numbers, but they’re getting to them in different ways.

Another fascinating point on the graphic is the networks that are on the decline. MySpace and Friendster are both showing a rather precipitous fall since 2009.  All the while, sites like Tumblr, StumbleUpon and Reddit are taking off.

From my perspective, I like the quick-sharing nature of the sites like Reddit. I can glance at the top stories, see if there’s anything interesting and if I want to dive into the comments, I can.  Reddit even offers motivation for submitting stories and making worthwhile comments with its Karma system.  People can get up-voted or down-voted accordingly to the content they submit.

There’s a lot of good information on the graphic, including some interesting extremes. Click the image to expand the view.  Of course, the largest social network is still Facebook and Twitter still has nearly 200 million accounts. It’s good to see where the tremendous growth is happening.

Outsourcing Your Social Media Efforts Can Be Beneficial

Monday, April 11th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

If you’re running your own business, you’re living a busy life. 40-hour workweeks are a starting point, and more likely you’re pouring in 60+ hours. This doesn’t bother most entrepreneurs though, because their business is their passion.  They want to see a grand idea through to its end. No one knows the direction of a business better than its founder, but should that founder be doing everything?

Even in a small business, doing everything can be overwhelming.  The layers of strategy to successfully promote, manage and run a business are adding up every day. Reminded of the children’s movie “Shrek”, run a business successfully and you’ll have a pretty big onion.

“There’s a lot more to [businesses] than people think,” says Shrek. Of course, I substituted “businesses” there for “ogres” but the point remains the same. If you’re successfully running a business, there are going to be a number of areas that you need support on.

Mashable asked the question in an article this morning, “Should You Outsource Your Social Media Efforts?”  At Marx Layne, we manage a number of social media accounts successfully for businesses of varying size, so emphatically I’d answer yes.  There can be a great advantage to giving social media control over to a firm that understands your goals and has an appreciation of the layers of your business.  It’s a partnership.

The Mashable article references a survey of 8,500 small businesses across the U.S. that reports more than two-thirds of small merchants use social media.  In the same survey, more than one-third of those companies say “lack of time and resources is their top online marketing challenge.” Combining the two, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Mashable does, small businesses need support for social media.

Outsourcing your social media efforts can be benefical, but each business is different and has different pros and cons to outsourcing the work.  Mashable has some great questions you should ask yourself if you’re looking to ease the burden on social media. The questions and some snippets are below, but make sure to check out the full answers in the article.

Can effective social media drive your business growth?

While investing in social media might make sense for an online merchant or local restaurant, a small tax preparation service or local plumber may have more difficulty justifying the time and effort. These businesses may get a better return on their time and money by ensuring that their business shows up in online searches, or by engaging with customers for positive reviews.

How well is your social media working today?

An experienced social media marketing consultant has the advantage of thinking about social media 24/7 — with multiple clients, they’re also sharing the cost of staying ahead of the curve. They not only know what works, but they also have the luxury of experimenting and trying new things with different clients.

Could outsourcing free up your time to focus on business operations?

Even if you’re pretty savvy when it comes to social media, you wear many hats as a business owner… and you probably want to have a life outside of work. For some businesses, the choice to outsource social media comes down to the relative value of their time.

How do you measure ROI?

Make sure you’ve established some measurable goals to ensure that your social media spending is moving the needle for your business.

Creating Value In Social Connections

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

Social media is here; it’s huge and it’s growing.  Establishing an online and social media strategy has become essential for businesses that want to connect with customers, clients, employees and other stakeholders.

Clients come to Marx Layne with questions on how to best utilize this tool and how to integrate it into their marketing.  Delivering and managing online reputation is a part of the creative communications we provide.  No two businesses are alike, and neither are their social media needs.  Our approach is specifically tailored to meet the needs of particular products, services and brands.

With our depth of experience, we combine the most effective social media strategies to help our clients enhance brand equity and reputation, sell products and services, create credibility, shape public opinion and solidify relationships with consumers and other stakeholders.

Marx Layne & Company understands that being on a social network is not the final goal for businesses.  We actively seek out new and innovative ways to inspire social media fans and friends to take action so that businesses and brands can see real results.

Our professionals have analyzed the best practices in the public relations industry and have identified how specific online communities respond through engagement and interaction.  This attention to detail translates into better outreach as companies look to optimize content for users.

At Marx Layne, we regularly work with local, regional and international clients to meet their social media needs.  Our social media and digital marketing experts guide and manage those needs for daily success in social networking.

Marx Layne’s digital marketing and communication practice can:

  • Develop Social Media Campaigns With Two-Way Conversation
  • Enhance Brand Equity
  • Monitor the Social Conversation
  • Optimize An Internet Presence
  • Foster Customer Loyalty Through Interaction
  • Generate Video, Apps and Content
  • Drive Internet Advocacy While Maintaining The Social Dialogue

First and foremost, a good social media campaign has concise, compelling editorial content written by people who clearly understand the brand.  At Marx Layne, we facilitate the sharing of videos, photos and branded messages that match our clients’ expectations. Creating editorial content and understanding the client’s brand is the backbone of the work that we do at Marx Layne.  Social networks are a continuation of that content and writing style.

How different clients work with us

Our clients range in size from privately held companies with a local or regional presence to Fortune 500 corporations and non-profit organizations.  Each has a different need when it comes to social media.

Some want us to set up, manage and facilitate the daily conversation with their social media audience.  Others want us to coordinate the social media strategies that they can conduct themselves. Still others are looking for guidance to get started, while looking to eventually become independent participants in the social media world.  All of our clients are asking us how to integrate social media as part of their website.

Reaching out and engaging the community is a vital part of what we do, so that we can foster a sense of achievement among customers as they create, manage and participate in the discussion themselves. To optimize the response and engage audiences appropriately we can track the “buzz” that is being generated.

If blogging is dead, then it’s living a healthy afterlife

Monday, February 21st, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

As long as people enjoy writing more than a few sentences at a time, blogging will never die.

I’d contend that if blogging is dead, as this New York Times article suggests, then it’s living a healthy afterlife.

NYT’s Verne Kopytoff writes, “Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.”

I’m fully ready to admit that sites like Facebook and Twitter are immensely popular. They offer fantastic services, but there’s a limit on consciousness at each.  Twitter’s limit is 140 characters, while Facebook’s status updates limit you to 420 characters.

If I want to share something that’s more substantial, like for instance this very post, I have to look beyond Facebook and Twitter.  When I’m done writing, I’ll certainly post a link on each network and will probably try to get linked to the stories on Techmeme.

The tech world had the blogging is dead conversation less than two months ago with a flurry of posts on Techmeme. Look at how Anil Dash chimed in with “If you didn’t blog it, it didn’t happen,” which was itself a response to Clive Thompson’s Wired article suggesting “Tweets and Texts Nurture In-Depth Analysis.”

“I save the little stuff for Twitter and blog only when I have something big to say,” Thompson quotes Dash as saying.  Then Thompson sites another piece of research, a survey saying, “the most popular blog posts today are the longest ones, 1,600 words on average.”

There’s also the news from WordPress that it had over 6 million new blogs in 2010 with pageviews up 53%.

At the heart of the New York Times article is the suggestion that Facebook and Twitter are monopolizing the time that used to be dedicated to writing.  Kopytoff also makes concessions that blogging is changing.

He cites Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, as saying blogging is not so much dying as shifting with the times.

“The act of telling your story and sharing part of your life with somebody is alive and well — even more so than at the dawn of blogging,” Rainie is quoted. “It’s just morphing onto other platforms.”

Then there are the numbers at the end of Kopytoff’s article, “Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.”

I think it’s more proof that when you’re trying to share a message, sharing it as widely as possible is what’s important.  If you have something that can fit in 140 characters or less, share it on Twitter and Facebook.  But if you have a long, complete thought that won’t fit then write it out.  You can post the link on your social networks.

Matt Mullenweg writes similarly in his post “Blogging Drift”, in which he says “You don’t stop using the lighter method, you just complement it — different mediums afford different messages.”

Ilene Wolff asks the question “To blog or not to blog?” for PRSA Detroit.  She cites the work we do at Marx Layne to maximize exposure to our blog and drive people to our website. We use the complimenting services to shed light on what we’re writing on the Marx Layne website.

Making Search Social – Google adds more social elements to its results

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

Google is mixing in more social elements to its search results, it announced this morning.

In a post by Mike Cassidy, Product Management Director, and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager, Google announced it’s “doing a little bit more to bring you all the goodness of Google, plus the opinions of the people you care about.”

This is an important step for Google, because the world is becoming more social as people look for information from their friends. It’s easier than ever to turn to a social network to get the best information.  Google is now integrating that in its search results.

As you can see Google’s picture, there are notations where someone you know shared something.  Google says it’s “enabling you to get even more information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or website.”  It’s important to note, as Search Engine Land has, while there’s a lot of social integration as of now, your Facebook friends’ likes will be excluded.

As Google continues to refine its search results, it’s making it a more personal experience.  While optimizing results is still possible, people will be getting different results based on their personal input and preferences.

Google posted a video explaining the social search update. You can watch it embedded below.

Hard Work Pays Dividends – The Marx Layne & Co. Team Launches Fender Premium Audio System, Verizon iPhone, Motown Winter Blast and “Touching Communities, Touching Lives” Ice Sculpture Competition at MGM Grand Detroit

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

By MICHAEL LAYNE, Marx Layne

If there’s a harder working account team than the members of Marx Layne & Co., show me.  From top to bottom, the Marx Layne team has showed that hard work pays dividends.

The partners, vice presidents, senior account executives, digital architects, account executives, account assistants and interns have kicked it into high gear in this still relatively new 2011.

A team recently returned from the Chicago Auto Show, where we were representing Panasonic Automotive Systems of America and are proud of their launch of the new Fender Premium Audio System in the new line of Volkswagen vehicles.

Our team worked the early morning hours last week with Verizon to successfully launch the new version of Apple’s iPhone 4.  Gathering photographs, video and interviews, Marx Layne associates were able to deliver results for Verizon Wireless.

In Metro Detroit, the Marx Layne team successfully completed the seventh annual Motown Winter Blast.  Held in and around Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit, the event features value-conscious, winter-themed activities for children of all ages, including marshmallow roasting, a snow slide, ice-skating and more.

This year’s event also featured the best ever local musical and entertainment acts on three different stages with genres appealing to all tastes and ages.

The Marx Layne team also put on the first annual “Touching Communities, Touching Lives” collegiate ice sculpture competition hosted by the MGM Grand Detroit at the Grand Garden.

Six teams consisting of students from Henry Ford, Oakland and Macomb Community Colleges will compete with the top three teams receiving scholarships.

MGM Grand Detroit has committed $1 million over a 5-year period toward the Green Garden, which is maintained by Greening of Detroit.  Creating alliances and partnerships with key organizations are instrumental in providing resources and opportunities to Detroit and its citizens.

All of this work shows the continued dedication of Marx Layne & Co. to its clients.

Imported From Detroit grabs attention from ‘Super’ audience

Monday, February 7th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

One of the most attention-grabbing commercials on last night’s Super Bowl broadcast was “Imported From Detroit” showcasing the Chrysler 200 with Eminem.

Watch it below.

Do you think the ad was targeted well? Do you think it hits its mark? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

Rainbird: How Twitter acquires, stores and uses the massive amount of data we produce

Friday, February 4th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

When you think about how many messages Twitter’s millions of users produce on a daily basis, it’s staggering.

Even at 140 characters, the massive amount of information has to be funneled through something, and now we know a bit more about what.

Yesterday at O’Reilly’s Strata 2011, Kevin Wiel gave a talk on “Realtime Analytics at Twitter.” Wiel is the Analytics Lead for Twitter.

From the Strata description, “Twitter is a realtime system, and it’s critical that our analytics be realtime as well. But with over 160 million users producing over 90 million tweets per day, we needed infrastructure that scaled horizontally in addition to being realtime. In this talk we’ll discuss the high-volume realtime analytics system we have built, as well as the benefits and challenges of this model over standard offline models. We’ll look at some products that we are building on top of this infrastructure, and discuss where we’re hoping to take this system in the future.”

His presentation shines a big light on how Twitter works with what it has. The slide show is embedded below, or you can download it here.

You shall not pass: Is it time for Twitter to boost its character limit?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

I read on Financial Times this morning that TweetDeck, my Twitter app of choice, has unveiled what it calls Deck.ly.  The service, similar to TwitLonger, will allow users to send out messages that are longer than the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter.  It prompts the very serious question, is it time for Twitter to raise the limit?

I know I’m not the only one chopping up and abbreviating words, dropping punctuation, using URL shorteners and more to try and fit into the 140-character limit.  In fact, one thing that bugs me are people that are breaking the character limit using outside-the-box services, which force you to click a link to read the complete message.

I still think Twitter needs a limit and it could be relatively low, I think 250 characters would be a good limit, because that fits in two text messages.  I’m already getting two texts from Twitter if I get direct messages from people with really long names or subscribe to certain tweets.  I don’t think anyone wants to navigate through streams of novellas that people post if the limit was abolished.

Iain Dodsworth, founder and chief executive of TweetDeck, told FT.com, “From day one [of Tweetdeck], it was one of the things almost everyone was screaming about… Going around that core tenet of Twitter could be a sensitive move. We don’t know how they feel about it.” (Emphasis mine.)

We really don’t know how Twitter feels about it, because they’ve never spoken out on the issue.  TwitLonger has been around for a while (its website doesn’t have the creation date), and now breaking through the 140-character limit will be built into one of the most popular Twitter apps.

I think it’s time for Twitter to boost the character limit, even if it’s only a moderate increase.