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Week 5

Week 5 - Social Media and User-Generated Content

  • To understand social media and user-generated content, various platforms and tools for each, and how to optimize their use for marketing
  • To analyze which of these tools might be most effective for your enterprise
  • To figure out how to get your enthusiasts to market for you
  • Week 5 page
  • eMarketing: The Essential Guide to Online Marketing - CC BY NC ND - chapters 8, 9 and/or 10 (Choose the chapter(s) that are most relevant given your previous experience and enterprise objectives.)
  • Twitter information of your choice (as indicated below)
  • Make-your-own-case-study - Find an enterprise that is doing a great job of using social media to market. Write a short post on the forum that includes:
    • A link to the enterprise and their social media page(s)
    • What you like about it
    • What lessons we all can apply to our own enterprises
  • Choose an enterprise that you love as a consumer/evangelist and do some marketing for them (Write an online review. Rate them on Google maps. Like and/or add something to their FB page. Follow them on Twitter. Spread the word to others.) Write a short post about what you did in the Forums under this week's prompt.
  • (Optional) Explore a social media tool that you aren't already familiar with but that might have applicability to your enterprise. Develop a strategy for using this tool, and if it makes sense, set up an account and get started. (Note: This could be expanded into your final project.)

Social media -- you've heard a million advertisements now including Twitter, Facebook, and others. Why are companies that have spent millions on their web site now giving their Facebook address instead? It's all about the connections.

Social media is a way to connect communities of people using very accessible, web-based tools.

User-generated content is a subset of social media -- it is, as it sounds, content that is created by users outside of your organization. It could be user guides created by customers, tech support forums with questions and answers supplied by people outside your organization, videos created by your users and posted on YouTube or elsewhere, or wikis to which anyone can contribute.

Like anything else, social media and user-generated content have their pros and cons.

Pros of social media
Cons of social media
  • Cheap or free
  • Huge reach
  • Influential
  • Allows you an unfiltered view of customer responses
  • Can be impossible to control the message
  • Very public (allows everyone to see customer responses)

Different types of social media have varying degrees of control over the content. For example, if you have a blog on your web site, you control the content and can even control which user responses are posted.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a massive conversation of millions of people that is, for the most part, completely public. You can't stop people from complaining about your business on Twitter. (In fact, it's a favorite pasttime of many.) Rather than trying to control negative comments on social media though, a forward-thinking business will see them as an opportunity. After all, if people are complaining about you on Twitter (or on forums or anywhere else on the web), they would be complaining about you in private conversations as well -- social media gives you the opportunity to see the issues and do something about it. Think of it as free market research. Try not to be defensive or controlling.

For the parts of social media that you do control, like your own tweets or Facebook page, think about these suggestions:
  • Like any web content, (or any marketing for that matter), use social media to ADD VALUE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. No one likes blatant advertising or even worse spam. People do like interesting content that relates to them, help solving problems,
  • Only commit to what you are able to update and add to regularly. Social media takes time, and nothing says "dead business" like a blog that hasn't been posted to in monts or a Twitter account with 5 tweets. Rather than try to tackle all platforms, choose one or two that you feel you can make a real commitment to, and do a great job at those. You canalways add more later.
  • Regularly scan the web for mentions of your enterprise. When you find them, listen!

Do be: 1. Genuine 2. Generous 3. Grateful  Don't be: 4. Greedy 5. Grandstanding 6. Grabby
Credit: Kivi Leroux Millder,, CC BY

Here are some of the more popluar platforms for social media and user-generated content with a very brief description of each. (This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please add comments with your own favorites.)
  • Blogs
    • Wordpress - open source blogging platform that offers a free hosted model (very easy to set up) or free software that you can host yourself
    • Blogger - proprietary site owned by Google; free version available
    • Twitter - microblogging; short 140 character or less posts; see below for  more info
  • Wikis
    • Mediawiki - open source software that you host yourself (same software that Wikipedia uses)
    • Wikispaces - proprietary site that offers a relatively robust free version with ads (they host; very easy to set up)
    • There are many many more.
  • Social networks
  • Hosted multimedia
    • YouTube - video sharing (Note: Some people don't like YouTube because it does
    • Flickr - photo sharing; includes an option to open lilcense content
    • Slideshare - presentation sharing; includes an option to open lilcense content
Think about which of these might be useful to your enterprise and explore how others are using them.

All of these tools have applicability to different enterprises. For example, if you are primarily marketing in a business-to-business environment, LinkedIn is likely to be vey important. If you are marketing organic produce from a small farm, timely information dissemination via something like Twitter or a blog would be important. If your audience is relatively tech-savvy, Twitter or mobile marketing is great. But if they aren't, email might be more important.

Among social media platforms, Twitter is currently embraced by many as a very effective way to engage viral marketing. If you aren't familiar with Twitter, this video (NC ND) gives a simple explanation. (Other CommonCraft videos are available here.) If you already are familiar with Twitter, here are some tips to maximize the value you are getting from it. (Google marketing and Twitter to get lots more. I just like Guy Kawasaki.:)

If you are new to Twitter, here are some marketing-related folks you might want to follow to get started (add your own favorites as well):
  • Quirk (publisher of our eMarketing text)
  • Unilyzer
  • karen (generally more open ed than marketing, but a lot of marketing during this course)

These are some thought-provoking (and amusing) info-graphics about social media. There are some explanatory text comments with each image. Think about how one of these relates to your own enterpresie and post your observations.

Source: Intersection Consulting, Mark Smiciklas,, CC BY

Task Discussion