Written by Andrew Abrams in 2009 as a primer for the self-described Internet newbie


Why should you read this whole story?

Who Uses the Internet? According to the Department of Labor and Statistics 75,000 new people hop on the Internet superhighway every day. That means the Internet marketplace is getting 75,000 potential new customers every day.

The Department of Labor and Statistics also states that 100,000 new websites are built every day. This means 100,000 potential new competitors every day.

Here are some eye-opening statistics from Neilson/Net

Ratings on Internet usage as of March 2007:

The numbers of people going online everyday to handle tasks like banking and shopping is growing sharply. People now routinely access the web to search for information, research best practices, and find solutions to their problems. Tasks that used to be handled offline are now commonly completed online. The Internet offers people the convenience they want.

I know … I know! …That’s old news.

Well, I couldn’t give you all of the latest stats because the numbers are now changing so rapidly that you would not be able to read the blur. The numbers would be increasing so fast, as I would be typing them. IMHO* the old numbers were spectacular enough, but now something has spread like wildfire through all of that cyberworld. It’s the Social Media that has made a sea change in how people and businesses communicate

* You are reading this because you have been identified as a social (media) misfit ;-). So, I’ll have to help you with the tricks of online communication. Acronyms and emoticons are used as a shorthand language. “IMHO” is an acronym that means In My Humble Opinion and the ;-) is a winking sideways face emoticon that means I was only kidding about your being a misfit.

Do you know how to blog and microblog?

A blog can be described as a website that has a means for two-way communication. There is no cost to produce a blog and most blog site providers offer a variety of formats and design-theme templates to choose from. Blogs have now become the grand daddies of the social and business communications networks. The newest social media sites have basically the same functionality except that everyone uses a common fixed format and template. The free service provides users with easy connectivity and introduction to each other in a network of simple blogs with content limitations and limited freedom in design …hence the name microblog . The communications can include text messages as well as images, videos, links to other sites on the Web, and seamless connectivity via links between the various major social media communities and the entire worldwide Web.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project monitors Internet usage and reports on the state of blogging. Blogs have established themselves as a key part of online culture.

Blog readers are 11 percent more likely than the average Internet user to have incomes of or greater than $75,000.

In 2007, Technorati, the leading blog directory, estimated there were 70 million blogs worldwide, with that number doubling every six or seven months.

Blog readers tend to make more online purchases. Blog readers also spend six percent more than the average Internet user. Traffic to blogs in the first quarter of 2007 increased by 45 percent from the same time the previous year and 39% of American Internet users read blogs (that’s 57 million adults.)

Although the term “social media” is now fixed in the lexicon of the Digital Age, I would prefer to use the term Personal Media. The current online activity is much more than social. It’s all about mixing personal discussions with friends and businesses of all sizes. However, until the rest of the world catches up with me, I’ll use the currently accepted term.

Social media interactivity is growing rapidly. More than half of online tweens and teens, and 42% of online adults want to see a social application from their favorite brands. For example, one in four US online adults want to see discussion forums from brands they like, while more than one-third of teens want profiles on social networks.

Advertising Age reports that, “ More companies are embracing social media. Social is growing into an established part of the interactive mix. Eighty six percent of marketers already built social media applications by the end of 2009. Three out of four US online adults (75% !!!) now use social tools to connect with each other compared with just 56% in 2007.

Today’s advertising agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand-loyal and more trusting of each other. To turn the tide, marketers will move to connected agencies that shift from making messages to nurturing consumer connections, from delivering push to creating pull interactions, and from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations.”


Some simplified definitions you will need…

Internet – The place where all computers of the world can communicate with each other through a huge networks of computers

World Wide Web, or WWW or W3 or The Web – Is a system of documents that are coded in digital language and reside on the Internet

Website or Site – A digital page or group of pages residing in a computer that is connected to the Web 24/7

Domain Name – An exclusive address for a website, on the Internet, usually ending in: .com, .org, .net, or .gov

Universal Resource Locator or URL – An address for a specific page on the Web

Link or Hyperlink – A text or graphic that when clicked will call up a place on the Internet such as a webpage or a part of a social media site.

About the hardware …Size does not matter.

Are you old enough to remember Dick Tracey’s radio wristwatch? Well, that old fantasy science is now as ordinary as the nearest cellphone. The equipment necessary to participate in conversing with friends, customers, vendors, sales personnel, and business associates comes in all sizes. They range in size from the smallest to largest as follows:

All of the above can connect to the Internet wirelessly which allows all but the large TVs and PCs to be portable and conveniently connected to the blogosphere and used almost everywhere on land, in the air, and at sea.

About the media communities …Size does matter.

Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Linkedin are the personal connectivity providers with the largest number of users and each is a leader in a specific category of media. Each media type category has hundreds of also-ran providers. However, knowledge of the big four will allow you to navigate them as well as many of the less populated services. They are all available 24/7, do not cost a penny to users, all have people and special interest search features, and most important …they are all easily connected to each other.

Twitter is the short message medium

The site has a huge number of players …as of June 2009, there were 20 million users in the U.S. and 44.5 million worldwide. Some of those users are businesses. It provides text messaging where each message (a “Tweet”) is limited to 140 characters. While you may think that limitation is only useful for informing others of what you had for breakfast or the title of your favorite movie, you are wrong. The truth is that the characters in a domain name link can be included in the text. So, the Twittersphere becomes one huge link-farm. Each link can take the reader to a magnificent website or blog, or it can simply link to a fellow Tweeter. One way to understand the power of a tweet is to visualize the tweet as a headline and the link leads you to the body of the story, but that body can be text, graphics, photos, videos, and slide shows.

Advertising Age reports the a 2010 statistic for tweets is, “…50 million tweets a day (600 a second)…”

Links can be abbreviated so that you don’t have to worry about going over the 140 limit in your tweet and you can save typing time. One type of abbreviated message tool or shortcut is the #hashtag . Any clicked name, text, or subject keyword that is preceded by the # sign will automatically take you to a Twitter page that is full of tweets about the subject of that hashtag.

In the 48 hours from the start of the earthquake in Haiti, people texting from their cellphones donated nearly $35 million in contributions for the Haitian earthquake relief fund. They found out how to do that by messages posted by users of the social media. The buzz on Twitter was created by using hashtags in their postings such as: #Haiti and #RedCross. Users simply clicked on the hashtags and were instantly taken to Web pages that gave directions on how to make the donation.

All of the above begs the questions, “How do I get those messages? …and who sees my tweets?” Well, in the Twittersphere, you have tweeters and followers . Tweeters can subscribe (or “follow”) the stream of the tweets of any other tweeter. So all tweeters can have many followers and many others who they have chosen to follow. The last time I looked, Barack Obama was following 742,914 on Twitter and he had 3,114,825 followers.

Re-tweet is a term that describes the forwarding of another Tweeter’s Tweet. A user’s online popularity can increase enormously if their Tweet is Re-Tweeted by thousands of other users.

Twitter offers many other shortcuts to simplify navigating the Twittersphere from any device, including cellphones.

Facebook (or “FB”) offers more features…

Facebook 2009 Statistics (Remember, it’s worldwide)

Re: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

Average Facebook User Figures

*NOTE: Status updates, comments, event invitations, friend requests, and private messages can, at the user’s option, be sent to the user’s email address. The email messages have links back to the place on FB where the item originated. Also, everywhere that you see the term “user”, that could mean an individual or an organization.

International Growth of Facebook

Facebook In Your Pocket

· There are more than 65 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.

· People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are almost 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile users because it can be with you any time and any place.

LinkedIn is mostly like a virtual business networking event.

Re: Wikipedia …about LinkedIn (Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia produced by the public and thousands of experts on every subject you can imagine)…

“LinkedIn has more than 50 million users worldwide, of which approximately half are in the United States. 11 million are from Europe. With 3 million users, India is the fastest-growing LinkedIn country as of 2009.

The purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.

This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways:

Youtube is the video provider of the online communities

While it’s primary purpose is to showcase video content, Youtube.com has become a valuable Internet search engine (that’s why Google purchased the company) and a place for social discussion. Upon entering a search keyword or phrase for any subject under the sun, the user will receive a list of many videos related to the query. The social aspect is easy to understand if we consider that there is a “Comments” space below each video; and any video can be linked or posted for display on individual blogs as well as Facebook. So anyone can instantly become a Video Jockey (“VJ”).

One very significant aspect of any of the social communities is the ability for any posting to become viral, …and Youtube is the winner when it comes to having its content passed around. A somewhat inane video of one infant biting his brother’s finger entitled “Charlie Bit My Finger” has been viewed 165,111,815 times as of the last time I checked …and that’s only one version of it. It has been edited and re-posted for many more millions of viewings.

As of October 2009, YouTube management tells us that it is serving “well over a billion views a day”. That’s at least 11,574 views per second, 694,444 views per minute, and 41,666,667 views per hour.

Everything is now scaling up to even higher importance because the major search engines such as Google are adding all of the chattering of the various social communities to their search targets. That means everything discussed above will be listed in search results.

Are you impressed with all of the numbers?
…If so, what are you going to do about it?

First some predictions…

Help!!! - It’s obvious by now that we’re not dealing with a passing fad here. Advertising agencies and marketing consultants are offering specialized services to guide clients through the social media jungle. Some of those outsourcings can get very expensive. In addition, the up-close-and-personal aspect of managing online conversations leads to keeping most media management in-house. We will see widespread acceptance of employees that are dedicated to social media management as much as we have accepted the role of IT staff and departments. Of course, the one-man shops will have to rely upon the boss for spending the time online, but time is money and some small aspects of the task may require a bit of reliance on consultations, newsletters, or seminars just to keep up with the rapidly changing environment.

A circle of friends - The surveys show that the happiest people in the world are those who have a good circle of friends. Fame, fortune, family, religion, and great vacations are all in the mix, but great friendships rise to the top according to the statistics. I feel that the sea change that is fostered by social media marketing is that customers can be viewed as legitimate friends; and good friends see through to your primary beliefs that, in the long run, cannot be hidden. Therefore, I am beginning to believe that we are evolving toward a business model where like-mindedness will become a more integral part of marketing strategies.

The corporate bible - A business, regardless of size, should have a mission statement that simply functions as a reference to keep management on track toward a recognizable goal. However, that reference must be expanded into an expanded guidebook, if all of the social media conversations are to be served. A database of clipable, boilerplate remarks and answers to questions will be a common tool for representatives of businesses to use much like the information that is provided to online help-desks. The resource will be acceptable to all corporate departments and divisions that will keep everyone on the same page when addressing employees, sales staff, strategic partners, suppliers, clients, customers, and consumers.

Sea changes - There must be a reason that newspapers are going out of business. Publishing giants Hearst Communications and Condé Nast are closing magazines like CosmoGirl and Men’s Vogue while Gannett and The New York Times Company are restructuring and selling off physical assets. …news and other consumer and trade publications have moved online …and the new media such as Huffpost are gaining popularity.

There is not one major TV newscast that does not have a live and active presence on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

Forrester Research has predicted that by 2014 interactive marketing will near $55 billion and represent 21% of all marketing spend.

What are you going to do about all of this???

One choice is to do nothing and just ignore all of the apparent waste of time.

Well that’s not so easy. One question that needs answering is, “Is my competition making a commitment to using the social media?” I have a feeling that you may be able to guess the answer to that one. However, if others are doing it, does it really impact your business? Well, that would require some time spent online to answer. If you find that your competition has mounted a large social media campaign over an extended period of time, you can assume that they are enjoying some benefit. Therefore, I suggest that you, at least, investigate the activity before you decide to pass.

Another question to think about is, “Are there any online discussions that are promoting negative remarks about my business.” You may decide to not participate, but are your competitors or disgruntled customers actually taking business away from you? If you think that sounds like there are cyber-battles going on out there, you are correct. We all know how fast bad news travels and how damaging it can be if unchecked. Many businesses have chosen to be more proactive about defensive PR. It is generally advised that it’s best to be prepared to counter-attack, if a war should start. Some players may be insignificant while others may be out for blood. Ignoring the onslaught of a negative campaign can be extremely harmful. Best advice… at least, be prepared for anything!

Another choice is to reap the benefits of getting involved.

Whether you choose to dive in or simply dip your toes, it’s not very difficult (or expensive) to commit to a social media strategy.

…and here’s where I can help.
(Enter Andrew Abrams, stage left, with laptop in hand)

You knew it was coming …didn’t you! This is the commercial break. I’ll make it very brief…

Andrew Abrams, Social Media Marketing Manager & Moderator

All of the social media tsunami is so current and changing from moment to moment that I can say with confidence that there are not too many marketing professionals in the world that can claim to have more experience than me. It’s simply too new for there to be anyone out there who could have devoted more hours to understanding how to handle the ins and outs of online correspondence.

If you, or anyone you may know needs to discuss my services for strategically planning, managing, or being a spokesperson of the social media connection for a business, please contact me.

Tel: 201 933 8098

Email: Andrew@iamcreative.com

Thank you for listening. I hope this information has been helpful.

Note: I will be treating this as a living document that I will update from time to time. Stay tuned as I may Tweet, Follow, Connect, or Friend you at any time in the future.

A parting word…

The world is changing so rapidly that you can lose perspective of how long you may be standing still or how much you may be falling behind. Knowing where you fit, from a global and technological point of view, is helpful. You can only take advantage of the newest tools that the world has to offer, if you practice curiosity about them.

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