The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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Social Networking Does Not Replace In-Person Networking

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

From time to time, I meet with young professionals who are starting out in their careers and need to make connections. Some of them have the idea that they can use LinkedIn and Facebook exclusively to make connections without actually meeting people face to face.  I discourage them from relying solely on their computers for networking. Instead, I advise them to join chambers of commerce, boards of trustees, and other civic groups to meet people in person.

Online social networking is a great way to initially connect with people, but it’s no substitute for developing relationships over the long term. I recommend that you always seek out opportunities to meet with people face-to-face. It’s great to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks before, during, or after your in-person interaction but the goal should always be to get together and do something in person. Social networks are a great way to keep track of people in between your in-person meetings.

You can’t truly get to know a person when both of you are behind your computer or smart phone screen. The best (and the worst) of people comes out during face-to-face interactions. I worry about young people who think they have ‘friends’ based on the number of connections they have on Facebook. These might be people who know your name and know what you look like, but until you’ve spent time with a person, you can’t really decide whether they are your friend or not.

My advice is to seek out the people you want to get to know either for personal or professional reasons, and invite them to lunch, or for drinks, or to a baseball game, or to go skiing or biking or hiking.  You may meet these people in a variety of settings but professional networking groups such as chambers of commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis and even BNI (Business Networking International) are good places to start.

There’s nothing like a campfire to pull together a group of people as
true friends. In May, we had a group of French students who were
visiting my son Jamie’s school over to our house a potluck dinner and
a campfire. We sang, told stories, and had a wonderful time together.
This is where true friendships are made.

There are so many fun things to do with old and new friends that will strengthen your relationship, but you need to make an effort to get these things on your calendar and extend your circle of influence.  Once you get together and enjoy these times together, you can post photos of yourselves on Facebook and other social networks, and share stories about what you did.

It’s easy to spend most of your time with your family and old friends, but for professional growth and development, you should make an effort to make new contacts and expand your circle of friends.

 

Eventbrite Changing the Way You Buy Tickets

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Hi, Erika here! It seems that every event I’ve been invited to in the past year has been linked to Eventbrite, and for good reason—it’s free! That’s right, completely free to create an online event.

Planning an event is stressful enough, without having to worry about ticketing, too. Another great feature of Eventbrite is that if your event is free than so is their service—they provide the perfect platform to promote it within your area without paying a thing.

The fees only begin when you start selling tickets, and what you pay for them to take all the stress out of online ticketing is minimal:

Eventbrite Fee

2.5%  plus $0.99 per ticket

*Cap fees at $9.95 per ticket for organizations

Processing Options

 

Standard Credit Card Processing Fee: 3% of ticket value

 

Paypal: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Google Checkout: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction

 

Authorize.net: rates vary

Kevin and Julia Hartz, husband and wife co-founders of Eventbrite

Since Eventbrite’s inception in 2006, the company has slowly been taking over the ticketing industry. They recently received a $50 million investment that makes some believe they could begin competing with larger sites such as TicketMaster and StubHub.

The first sign of them being ready to step it up comes from their recent partnership with Facebook’s “Buy Tickets” feature—a partnership that occurred within 48 hours of the new feature’s launch.  This seamless connection comes from the relationship that was already in place between Eventbrite and Facebook from their work together on Open Graph, which helps people tell stories about their lives through the apps they use.

The way the new “Buy Tickets” feature works is that when someone creates an event using Eventbrite, they will be given the option to “Publish to Facebook.” After this is done, the event will be on Facebook and they simply invite people to their event, or make the event public for the “Buy Tickets” button to appear.

The new feature will allow Eventbrite users to seamlessly link their events to Facebook.

Sharing events on Facebook happens every day; it’s coordinating where to send the money for these events that gets messy. You have to either be directed to another site to pay or you show up to the event and hope there are tickets left. Taking out the middle man makes sense. Kevin Stone of the New York Times quotes Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz saying, “Events are naturally social. You are certainly likely to share with others what conference you are attending, what club event you are going out to or what class you are going to take.”

Eventbrite has been growing steadily since its founding in a small one-room office in San Francisco back in 2006. It took off in 2010 and by 2012 it had more than tripled in size. Much like Pinterest, Eventbrite doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon, and is the one to watch when it come to online ticket sales.

The Continuing Evolution of Social Media

Hi, Erika here!

My little sister Tessa and me last Christmas

I would consider myself to be pretty hip. I keep up with the latest celebrity news. I know who the cutest guy from One Direction is (according to my little sisters it’s a pretty close tie between Louis and Zayn) and I follow the latest social media trends, but sometimes I have these moments when my little sisters are zipping through online chats and sharing videos from one source to another as easy as cutting a hot knife through butter, that I begin to feel really old.

My little sister Desiree and me last Christmas

 

I think about trying to explain to my Mom why she should ditch the landline for mobile and I find her giving me reasons that are comparable to my reasons for why kids shouldn’t be on Facebook. She’s stuck in her ways, I’m stuck in mine, but the reality is that social media is everywhere—neither one of us should be fighting it and neither should you. Social media is evolving, but how much has it changed and how will it continue to evolve in the years to come?

Social media has steadily increased from a blip on the radar to an essential part of business strategies. The increasing mobility and access to social media sources makes it pretty safe to say that social media is no longer just a trend—it is an integral part of business and popular culture. So let’s take a look at how it all began and where it’s going.

AOL: While yes, there had been BBS and CompuServe, America Online (AOL) brought the “Internet” into everyone’s homes in 1993 and made “networking” possible. It was the original site that allowed people to personalize their profiles, update their statuses in the form of “away messages,” personalize their account with color and font choices, and it included member searching capabilities. I remember sleepovers with friends looking for Justin Timberlake (we never found him) or seeing who had the coolest away message. You could even customize your online mood by choosing a smiley, grumpy, goofy, flirty, etc. icon.

Classmates.com: In 1995, the first true social network was created by Randy Conrads. He was looking for ways to let people reconnect with that high school prom date or that best friend you lost touch with over the years. It was the first time this sort of network had been put into motion although due to issues with fees, it has lost a lot (if not all) momentum in the social media scene.

Friendster: Basing much of its basic set-up on classmates.com, Friendster was a social networking site that focused on making new friends and meeting new people, unlike Classmates which focused mainly on people you already knew. It recently has re-launched as a social gaming site.

LinkedIn: In 2003, two very different sites would launch, but LinkedIn decided that with all of the online social networking going on, they would focus primarily on business “connections” rather than personal networking. To this day, the site’s primary goal is helping business professionals to network and endorse one another.

MySpace: The second 2003 launch and without a doubt, a precursor to Facebook, MySpace was mainly focused on music and video sharing. It felt more hip and gave the users more options than any other site available. The personalization factor helped people feel more comfortable and it became a resource to connect with artists, friends and more.

Facebook: The game changer. Founded in 2004 and originally available only for Harvard students, it went public in 2006 and has since brought in nearly one billion users. Its success has set precedents that no other social network has been able to surpass. They are constantly changing their site (maybe too much if you ask users) to better fit the evolving trends in social media and the requests of users when it comes to privacy policies and page layout. The trust built with users helps people feel free to be themselves by sharing their status, current location and even personal photos.

YouTube: The next phase in the evolution came from three former PayPal employees. They decided to share videos online and with the use of HTML5 and Adobe Flash Video they enabled their members to share their own personal videos. This revolutionized sharing and in a world where people are constantly being overloaded with information, the instant gratification factor that YouTube brings to consumers is refreshing.

Twitter: In 2006, the world rapidly became familiar with “Tweeting.” Celebrities quickly endorsed the idea of sharing photos and mini status updates in the form of a Tweet. In 140 characters or less you were able to constantly update your followers and keep up with the people you followed. This social media outlet became a great resource for news outlets, and contests, and sharing more frequently.

Pinterest: While it is still young, since 2010 Pinterest has set records in growth. Last year alone they grew by 145%, not to mention that they generate more referral traffic to website than YouTube, Google +, and LinkedIn combined. Not bad for a company less than three years old with a mere 16 employees.

So where is technology going?

  • Mobile access is becoming a requirement, not an option as social media continues to evolve.
  • The iPhone and Android systems have completely changed accessibility, which means everything, good or bad, can go viral in an instant—you want to make sure that you are not only prepared to act quickly, but that you have a way to respond to consumers in the way they understand it best.
  • Social television is taking off thanks largely to Twitter. Fans can now watch television with their favorite actors/celebrities by Tweeting using a hash-tag to carry on conversations as the show is playing via their mobile device.
  • Facebook and Twitter are looking into ways to present advertisements through their mobile sites. This requires a larger social media budget for most companies and makes proving results very important. The C-suite wants to see what they’re getting out of the money they’re spending.
  • Social customer service—if you have an e-commerce site, link it to your social networks and take the time to answer questions posted. Transparency is more important than ever. You are no longer selling a product—you are building relationship and trust with your consumers.

It’s a lot of information, but social media is a complicated business. It has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings into a full-on revolution in the way people communicate and do business. Hopefully, this week’s Witty Wisdom will help you navigate your way through the different social networks out there and find a way to join the conversation.

The Art of Search

 

Hi, Erika here.

The other day I was doing an assignment researching paper/card stock and I was looking for how-to guides for choosing the perfect stock for your needs. It seems silly, but type “paper stock” in your Google search bar and tell me what you find. While, yes, I found a lot of information on paper stock, I also found a lot of information from investors telling me that buying stock in toilet paper was a smart choice and that “people will always need it.” You’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Ok, I got plenty of results about actual paper stock too,” but I wanted visuals to demonstrate the images in my head. You might say Google has images, but for some reason all I could think about was Pinterest. I knew that by using Pinterest, not only would I be likely to find bloggers with real experience, but bloggers with an interest to share not only their thoughts, but images too. This raises the question, have you thought about using Pinterest for some of your search engine needs?

The board I used to tell my hairdresser what “look” I wanted.

I will start this by saying—I am Google addict. Not even the Bing vs. Google test could sway my opinion (I was not in the 2:1 group that chose Bing over Google). However, the last time I went to my hairdresser, I opened up my hair board from Pinterest to show her the “look” I was aiming for and she loved it. Previously, we would look at all these photos I had saved from Google into my phone and it would take forever because I would have to go through my pictures, opening and closing each image. With Pinterest all I have to do is scroll. Pinterest certainly won’t work as a searching tool for most business-related topics, but for visual and creative areas, like wedding planning and designing, not only is it more functional, but it is more visually appealing.

My best friends Grace and Jordan have been using Pinterest instead of Google religiously when it comes to planning a wedding (Grace), and working as a designer (Jordan), as they are always looking for inspiration. Pinterest allows Grace to create living “inspiration boards” for her wedding planning needs. Grace said that she went from showing up to with folders full of crumpled paper to opening up her laptop and sharing her wedding boards. “I found hundreds of ideas, not just for the dress, but for flowers, drinks, photos, things that I wouldn’t have ever thought of myself or found in a magazine or by searching Google.” Jordan agrees that as a designer, “Pinterest is an exponential database of images and resources that keep you in an infinite loop of information. That’s why it’s so addictive; it’s organized chaos.”

The result of a Pinterest image search.

The result of a Google image search.

When it comes to recipes, Pinterest also seems to have a functionality advantage. Google doesn’t present images and recipes together. You have to click the image to possibly get to a recipe and if you don’t like that recipe or it’s not what you’re looking for, then you have to back your way out of the item you’ve clicked to get back to where you started. On Pinterest the description is featured under the image and if you want a better look, you click the image and it appears almost as a popover—to keep looking you simply click anywhere else on the screen and never lose your place. So what’s my advice for when to you use Pinterest instead of Google? I’ve listed three easy TIPs to help you decide:

  • Use Pinterest if you’re looking for buyers—people are over 50 percent more likely to buy from Pinterest than Google search.
  • Use Pinterest to explore gift ideas and/or inspiration.
  • Use Google when searching for in-depth information on a product or service.

Here at NMC, we use our Wednesday Witty Wisdom to help you think about things differently. I had honestly never realized how much I was using Pinterest over Google until writing this article and I hope that this helps you to expand your search options, particularly with photos, with the use of Pinterest.

Happy searching!