Social media marketing trends for 2014
johnbohan

Image Source: socialbuzzclub.com


Social media is here to stay. What most experts thought was a passing fad became a driving force for businesses. Despite ever-changing consumer interests, social networks continue to keep pace with the caprices of their target markets.

With the recent Super Bowl as an example, marketers now have different ways of speaking to their markets through social media. Here are some tips social media marketers should keep in mind this 2014:

Focus on the conversations

Marketers had a hard-line stance on traditional forms of marketing. They used to just throw out the proverbial net in the hopes of catching some attention for their products. When social media came about, the method persisted. But they soon realized that social media conversations are useful tools, but are personal and can be very exclusive. However, when given permission, marketers can enter these conversations to leverage brands.

Just like any conversation, companies need to listen first and only then reply to add value to the user experience.



Image Source: hospitalitynet.org


Use all available data

These days, information can literally be at the touch of a button. Social media analytics, research and other types of useful information are found across the Internet. Brands can use the virtual data together with real-life gathered information to come up with better strategies and products.

Keep up with the conversation

Just like in real life, online conversations can change every minute. What companies need to do is keep up with the pace to ensure that the information they send out is relevant. Brands need to be on the lookout for opportunities such as big events like the Super Bowl to make their mark in the online community.



Image Source: screenrant.com

John Bohan is an advocate of social media marketing. Learn more about new trends in advertising and marketing through this LinkedIn account.

REPOST: 6 Simple Photo Tools for Creating Social Media Visuals
johnbohan
Visuals can create better impact to readers. Read some easy-to-use tools that can enhance the images that you can put on your social media accounts from this article:

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Are you including images in your social media content?

Looking for easy-to-use tools to help you create images for your content strategy?

If the idea of using Photoshop makes your head spin or hiring a graphic designer isn’t an option, there are many easy-to-use, low-cost alternatives available to you to create social media graphics.

In this article, I’ll show you 6 easy tools that will help you create compelling graphics for social media.

#1: Use PicMonkey’s Online Photo Editor to Take Your Images From Good to Glorious

PicMonkey‘s free option has a wide variety of frames, special effects and font types to choose from.

With a touch of a button, you can crop and resize your photo, and add text to your images.

picmonkey image

Choose from a wide variety of free fonts on PicMonkey to create appealing images like this one with PicMonkey.

The paid option offers additional features that include more frames and photo effects.

PicMonkey is a great solution for all types of social media images. Not only can youcreate graphics for your posts, you also can make banners and buttons for your social media accounts, such as Facebook.

#2: Express Yourself Through Photos and Creations on LiveLuvCreate

LiveLuvCreate is an image-creation website most anyone will find easy to use.

With LiveLuvCreate, you pick from a variety of design layouts—from one image as a background to a collage of graphics. You can use images from your computer or choose from LiveLuvCreate’s library.

Choose up to three text areas with a range of font types, colors and styles.

You may also select borders, filters and photo effects for additional image enhancements.

liveluvcreate-app

An example of a social media graphic you can create on LiveLuvCreate.com.

Once you complete your graphic, you can share your creation on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, or download the image to your computer.

#3: Create Your Own Designs With Canva

Canva is a free application that offers a myriad of graphic types for use in everything from presentations and posters, to business cards and invitations. For social media use, consider Canva to help you design Facebook cover photos and blog images.

canva image

Canva offers many different layouts to help you create compelling and shareable social media images.

If you’re signed into Facebook, Canva can pull in your photos. You can also upload your own graphics from your computer, or purchase from Canva’s stock image library (most images are only $1 US).

Additionally, Canva has a unique feature where you can collaborate with other users, which is great if you need to share or edit your images with someone else.

Canva is currently under closed beta, but you can reserve your username and be placed on a waiting list. Then, you can try Canva out once you gain access to the beta version.

#4: Use Image and Photo Editing Software From Paint.NET

If you want some of PhotoShop’s capabilities, check out Paint.NET as an alternative.

Paint.NET is a free download for PCs and offers many of the same features available in PhotoShop.

It supports layers, has unlimited undo capability and offers special photo effects, including red-eye removal. You can also draw shapes, add text and recolor your images with Paint.NET.

paintnet-app

You can easily crop any image on Paint.NET and then resize to your specifications.

Because Paint.NET is a free download, tapping into the user community is the best way to get help with how to use it. Check out Paint.NET’s online forum for help, tutorials and plugins.

#5: Design Unique and Compelling Presentations With PowerPoint

It may come as a surprise to see PowerPoint on this list, but it offers another easy way to create social media images.

Any PowerPoint slide can be saved as a JPEG or PNG. Just click on Save As, and then select JPEG or PNG from the Save as Type drop-down menu.

PowerPoint then asks if you want to export every slide or just the current slide. Select Current Slide Only, and you have an image file of your PowerPoint slide. If you’re comfortable using PowerPoint, take advantage of this capability to create social media images.

And if you’re looking for an easy way to make Facebook cover photos, be sure tocheck out Tabsite’s PowerPoint Template for Facebook Cover Photos.

tabsite-facebook-template

Use Tabsite’s PowerPoint template to create eye-catching Facebook cover photos. Photo courtesy of Tabsite.

Tabsite made a free, easy-to-use template that even shows where your profile photo appears on a cover photo so you can design around it.

#6: Make Awesome Collages With PicCollage

Don’t forget that compelling social media images can include snapshots, and when you want to creatively display these types of photos, check out PicCollage.

PicCollage is an app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Once you download the app, use photos from your Facebook account or camera stream to create collages.

Select a background on PicCollage, add your photos, then text and stickers to your image. PicCollage also allows you to resize, rotate, edit and delete any of your creations. When you complete your collage, you can share your image on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

piccolage-app

You can choose from many different layouts for your collage. Photo courtesy of PicCollage.

Use PicCollage to creatively display photos from a client event, office party or conference. Or pull in a favorite quote and surround it with images.

With a little creativity, PicCollage helps you create social media graphics that show a more personal side to your business.

Final Thoughts

While hiring a graphic designer or learning to use PhotoShop may be the best solution, it’s nice to know you have alternatives to help you design graphics to share on social media.

When you need help to create social media graphics, consider any of these toolsto help you get the job done.

Do your research. Finding the right image design tool is a bit like trying on shoes; you need to choose the best one to fit your needs. You may find that it’s best to use multiple platforms to create your social media graphics, like KJ Ammerman who likes to use Picmonkey and Canva.

picmonkey and canva image

KJ Ammerman likes to use Picmonkey for backdrops, Canva for layout and then back to Picmonkey for text.


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John Bohan is one of the pioneers in Internet marketing. Get to know more of him by following this Facebook page.


REPOST: Facebook Misery Index [INFOGRAPHIC]
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What's a Facebook Misery Index? Learn about it from this infographic from SocialMediaToday.com.

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For every Facebook post that makes you smile there's one that make you grimace, shudder, or frown. Follow along as this infographic (from techhive) lists the relative delight and misery caused by 15 prototypical timeline posts - People who post the photos and words that cause the most damage - and 10 most misery-inducing Facebook posts.

Compare your own Facebook experience to the sample index below, and ask yourself if Facebook account is, on balance, a good thing or a bad habit.

How Bad Facebook Makes You Feel - Facebook Misery Index [INFOGRAPHIC]

Facebook Misery Index: Quantifying exactly how bad Facebook makes you feel

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John Bohan is one of the pioneers in the Internet marketing industry. For more about him, visit this Facebook page.


REPOST: Facebook Slightly Tweaked How The Site Works — And It Screwed An Entire Profession
johnbohan
"Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which "stories" show up on the News Feed." Read about the recent change in Facebook that threatens social media marketers from this BusinessInsider.com article:

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Image Source: businessinsider.com

Facebook brand pages are suddenly getting a lot less traffic, and it's threatening the entire social media marketing industry.

Earlier this month, Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which "stories" show up on the News Feed.

The News Feed is that center column you see when you go to Facebook.com or open your Facebook app.

Lots of industry insiders noticed the change and said it would screw over a few companies that depend on Facebook.

These industry insiders were right, but they had the wrong victims in mind.

They also may have missed the true motive behind Facebook's change.

In a December 2 blog post, Facebook said it would start to put more articles from publishers in the News Feed, ranking them by how much your friends have been clicking on them.

Facebook said it would favor "high quality articles" over "the latest meme."

When the change went down, lots of people assumed it would be terrible news for publishers that write a lot about "memes" and publish other "viral" content – publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Then AllThingsD's Mike Isaac reported that the Facebook executive in charge of News Feed, Chris Cox, has a personal distaste for those two sites. It seemed like their doom was imminent.

But it turns out Buzzfeed and Upworthy aren't the companies getting immediately screwed over by the change.

The people already getting hosed are "social media marketers" – an industry of people who run Facebook pages for big brands.

A week or so after Facebook made its changes, one social media marketing agency, Ignite, analyzed 689 posts from 21 brand pages. Ignite found that in just one week, the number of people who saw posts from those brands declined by 44% on average, "with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%."

So what was Facebook's News Feed tweak actually about?

To answer that question, you have to remember exactly what Facebook brand pages are.

They are a free way for companies to use Facebook to talk to their customers and gin up more sales.

They are free ads.

Well, they are almost free. Even free marketing requires management. Someone has to come up with the creative. Someone has to make sure the creative is working – that the brand is getting lots of "likes." And that's why "social media marketing" agencies, like Ignite, exist.

So here's a hypothesis: Facebook's News Feed tweak wasn't only about getting "higher quality content" in the News feed. It was as much about reducing the reach of free ads on Facebook. Now, if a brand wants exposure on Facebook, it's going to have to buy it from Facebook.

There will be two pieces of fallout from the change:

Social media marketing firms are going to have to figure out new core competencies or they are going to go out of business.

Facebook's Wall Street analysts will soon begin to notice that the company figured out yet another way to bolster revenues, even as it stops stuffing more ads in the News Feed.

While they are screwed in the short term, don't worry too much about the people in the social media marketing industry.

They have been through a similar trial before.

Google once went through a period where it adjusted its search algorithms so that companies couldn't just game the system to get their pages to the top of search results pages.

Google's message to companies was: Quit paying "search engine optimizers" to get to the top of Google. If you want sales from our users, do a simple ROI calculation, and buy as many Google ads as you can afford; you won't regret it.

When that happened, tons of search engine optimization, or "SEO," experts who'd spent their days studying Google, suddenly became social media marketing, or "SMM," experts who spent their days studying Facebook.

Now, they're already on to Snapchat.

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More news about the social media industry can be read on this John Bohan blog site.


REPOST: Will Your Facebook Profile Sabotage Your Job Search?
johnbohan
According to this BussinessTime.com article, "more than 40% have reconsidered a job candidate based on what was in a social media profile."

Facebook, Twitter and their ilk are digital catnip for hiring managers, but this addiction isn’t a harmless buzz: New research shows that what’s in our profiles has little bearing on how well we do our jobs, even though a large number of recruiters operate under the assumption that it does.

Social media? Everybody’s doing it — everybody in HR, that is. According to one survey by recruiting software company Jobvite, 93% of recruiters surveyed are likely to look at a candidate’s profile in the course of filling a job. More than 40% have reconsidered a job candidate based on what was in a social media profile, and 60% say improper grammar or punctuation, along with four-letter words, make them think poorly of the applicant.

When it comes to profiles and performance, “For some reason, there’s this impetus to think it’s related,” says Philip Roth, professor of management at Clemson University. ”Companies are inspecting social profiles to weed out candidates and to get a sense of whether a particular applicant is likely to fit into the culture or not. What you post or Tweet can have positive or negative impact on what recruiters think of you,” Dan Schawbel wrote in TIME last year.

“To me the complications that go with that logic are pretty substantial,” Roth says.

The temptation of using sites like Facebook to take a peek at what job-seekers say and do when they’re off the clock is its accessibility and the sense that it offers a real-life window into someone’s unguarded thoughts. ”It’s easy,” Roth says. “The information is just too alluring.”

The trend and the assumption of a correlation between what people display online and what kind of behaviors they display in the workplace also can be ascribed to a misplaced faith in the power of technology to provide better insights than the low-tech methods that preceded it, Roth says.

“People also look at this through a technological lens — technology is good, we’ll try it — but if you look at it as an employment test it ought to have a proven record of predicting job performance,” he says. “If it works you ought to have a track record that it works. The track record for social media isn’t there.”

(MORE: The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired)

In a new Journal of Management article, Roth found that although there’s plenty of information that shows how much social media is used in hiring, there’s a dearth of research on how well it’s being used. Employers are forging ahead and relying on the assumption that a job candidate whose Facebook profile is full of hard-partying photos and devoid of capital letters and commas, for instance, won’t be a good worker.

This assumption is actually dead wrong. In another Journal of Management paper, Roth and lead author Chad Van Iddekinge of Florida State University couldn’t find any link between subjects’ current job performance and what kind of employees recruiters thought these people would be based on evaluations of their Facebook pages. “We had recruiters make predictions and the empirical correlation was essentially zero,” Roth says.

Part of the problem is that there’s really no standard for how to evaluate a Facebook page this way, so HR folks wind up guessing or going with their gut — not a reliable way to assess jobworthiness. Taking what users post on Facebook at face value is a gamble, too — anyone with a Facebook friend who’s prone to embellishing the truth (which is probably most of us) knows that.

There are other reasons why relying on social media as a kind of ad hoc screening tool isn’t a good hiring strategy. “There was evidence of subgroup difference in Facebook ratings that tended to favor female and White applicants,” Van Iddekinge and Roth write.

The authors theorize that the overwhelming amount of personal detail in Facebook profiles “may cause decision makers to rely on biases” as they try to sort out what’s relevant and what isn’t. Roth says using profile content to predict job performance is similar to some employers’ use of credit checks, a practice that’s been banned in some states.

Roth points out that photos and “likes” can give clues to applicants’ race, religion and other classes protected from workplace discrimination. He also says it potentially could skew the playing field either for or against older candidates, who are less likely to be active on social media sites.

Sites like Facebook are a great way for people to put their personality on display, but hiring managers are making a big mistake when they evaluate the profile rather than the person.

John Bohan is the founder and general manager of SocialTyze, a social media marketing company. For more news related to digital marketing, visit this Facebook account.

REPOST: Don't Bet Against LinkedIn - It Will Win A Large Share Of A $44 Billion Industry
johnbohan

LinkedIn may just be the rising star to take on the other social media giants. Find out why in this article.

Investors were disappointed about the most recent quarterly results from LinkedIn LNKD +0.1%, but they are missing the bigger picture of the company’s future. LinkedIn will benefit tremendously as marketers continue to shift their focus from banner ads to content marketing and more of the $44 billion spent on content marketing shifts online.

The Content Marketing Institutedefines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.”  The techniques of content marketing are becoming more valuable as customers ignore traditional banner advertisements and brands have learned that they can create direct relationships with their customers via social networks.

Some consider content marketing to be a new technique, but it actually has its roots in the golden era of advertising. As one of the most famous Mad Men, David Ogilvy, once said, “the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look, and read.”  This has become even more important in our social and mobile world. The COO of BuzzFeed, Jon Steinberg, makes a strong argument in this video that content marketing is the only way to reach an audience on a mobile device and that display ads have a bleak future in a mobile world.

As business-to-business (B2B) brands, like General Electric GE +0.15%, continue to dedicate more dollars to content marketing, LinkedIn will stand to benefit tremendously. The Content Marketing Institute recently released their annualB2B marketer survey results. The survey shows that there’s even more enthusiasm for content marketing in 2014 than there was in 2013. 93% of B2B brands claim to use content marketing and of those 87% use social media to distribute their content. The number one measurement of success for a B2B brand is increasing web traffic to their content, and they need distribution to do this. The best, and most frequent way to reach a business audience is through LinkedIn – 91% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as their distribution channel, up from 83% last year. 62% of B2B marketers believe that LinkedIn is an effective distribution channel, making it the most popular B2B social network by a large margin.

LinkedIn hasn’t been shy about demonstrating that helping companies host content and distribute it to a targeted audience is the future of the company. Although hiring solutions still represents a majority of the company’s revenue, the future growth of the company will come from their marketing solutions products. You can expect marketing solutions to increase its contribution to the business both nominally and relative to the other product lines as its mobile Sponsored Updates product matures and content marketing budgets continue to grow.

Marketing professionals worldwide are switching their focus to content. In 2013, 35% of marketers were focused on content marketing versus 19% in 2012. Marketers aren’t just focused on content marketing hypothetically –58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014 with a lion’s share of their distribution budgets going toward LinkedIn.

Content marketing is the future of mobile and online brand spending. LinkedIn is in a unique position to grow its business by capturing the growth in spending from B2B marketers. This trend will be a driving force behind the growth of the company and its stock price going forward.

John Bohan is one of the first Internet advertising executives, with him entering the industry as early as 1994. More social media marketing insights on this blog site.


Changing the rules of marketing for the Internet age
johnbohan


Image Source: mashable.com


It seems that there is a need to change the way marketers think of digital marketing. While many agree on expanding their marketing efforts to include the Internet and social media, there are still those who apply the old rules of marketing when they attempt to converse with users online.

Specialists point out that digital marketing is about establishing and strengthening relationships with consumers. Attempting to directly sell a product to users of social media platforms may actually do more harm than good in digital marketing because it is not the kind of content that many Internet users are looking for. Approaching digital marketing with only the intent to sell is a quick way to get the content ignored by many social media users.



Image Source: forbes.com


As seen in the type of content that becomes popular online, Net users are looking for something that is unique and amusing. Consumers need to have something to catch their attention first before they can even be remotely convinced to show their support for a specific brand.

In the era of social media and digital marketing, storytelling and relationship building efforts play important roles in the success of any marketing campaign. Marketers would do well to change their methods of increasing their brand’s visibility to the consumers. While it is impossible to totally eliminate the goal of selling the product, having a better understanding of what consumers want to hear or see from their social media updates is a good way to get noticed in the Internet age.




Image Source: beecrm.com


Find more resources on social media marketing on this John Bohan Facebook page.


Repost: China Intensifies Social-Media Crackdown
johnbohan

"In an offensive that some critics have likened to the political purges of the Mao era, Beijing has recently detained or interrogated several high-profile social-media figures." More about China's restrictions on Internet usage can be read in this Wall Street Journal article.

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BEIJING—A forceful campaign of intimidation against China's most influential Internet users has cast a chill over public debate in the country and called into question the long-term viability of its most vibrant social-media platform.

In an offensive that some critics have likened to the political purges of the Mao era, Beijing has recently detained or interrogated several high-profile social-media figures, issued warnings to others to watch what they say and expanded criminal laws to make it easier to prosecute people for their online activity—all part of what one top propaganda official described on Tuesday as "the purification of the online environment."

State media have reported more than two dozen detentions on charges of spreading rumors and related offenses since China's newest generation of leaders officially took power in March. Authorities have launched similar antirumor campaigns in the past, but the difference with the current campaign is its focus on high-profile figures.

The crackdown has touched some of the biggest personalities on Sina Corp.'sSINA -1.01% popular Weibo microblogging service, perhaps most notably Charles Xue, a Chinese-American venture capitalist with more than 12 million followers on the site.

In an indication of the power of these users, after Mr. Xue picked up a post on July 12 that criticized toxic food, high prices, low wages and other issues and said, "We have all become 'people who tolerate,' " it was reposted by his followers more than 17,000 times and got more than 2,000 comments.

image

Image Source: WSJ.com


Known online by his pen name Xue Manzi, he was arrested on charges of soliciting a prostitute in late August, in what many Internet users interpreted as a warning to other social-media stars.

Over the weekend, China Central Television showed Mr. Xue handcuffed and unshaven but eerily cheerful in a Beijing detention center, confessing to having been nonchalant about the veracity of information he spread online.

"Freedom of speech cannot override the law," he said. Mr. Xue remains in detention on the solicitation charge, and hasn't been charged with anything related to his online activities.

It isn't the first battle for control of expression on China's Internet, but the current campaign is wider, more systematic and more strident. In play is the future of public discourse in China and the commercial environment for its Internet firms.

A chokehold on political discussion on Sina Weibo threatens to scatter users away from the country's most vibrant venue for public discourse into smaller virtual meeting places.

The crackdown is quickening a move of users from Weibo to more private exchanges on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'sTCEHY -0.97% mobile messaging app WeChat, which has drawn less oversight from authorities. Longer term it could turn Sina into a company more focused on the buying and selling of goods and as a forum to keep up with celebrities and post travel logs rather than one centered on public exchange.

Still, some activists who use the service say they have been tracked. In January, an activist who took part in protests against the censorship of Southern Weekly, a popular newspaper known for its hard-hitting investigation into social issues, told The Wall Street Journal he believed he had been tracked by his activities on WeChat. The man said he was detained by police for a day at a location not near the protests after discussing his plans to join the protest over WeChat. He said his only activity online that morning was communicating with his friends via WeChat.

The newspaper dispute stemmed from allegations by editors that propaganda officials switched out an editorial calling for greater protection of legal rights for one lauding the government's achievements. Guangdong authorities later agreed to no longer directly interfere in content before publication, a Southern Weekly editor said.

A handful of other users at the time also reported the service was blocking terms related to the protests. At the time, prominent dissident Hu Jia posted to his Twitter account an image of his own unsuccessful attempt to send a message using Southern Weekly's Chinese name. In the post, he called WeChat a "monitoring weapon in your pocket." Since the protests, others have reported the blockage of sensitive terms or posts on the service.

Inklings of Beijing's intention to target Sina Weibo's most influential users appeared as far back as February, when Lu Wei, one of China's top officials in charge of Internet monitoring and censorship, invited a number of so-called Big V's—influential Weibo users with verified accounts—out to dinner at Capital M, a posh Western-style restaurant located just south of Tiananmen Square, people with knowledge of the dinner said.

A similar dinner followed in May. The atmosphere at both gatherings was congenial and Mr. Lu seemed intent on making friends with his guests, these people said.

The mood changed in the following months as propaganda officials began to talk more frequently about the need to quell online rumors. In mid-August, Mr. Lu convened a "Forum on Social Responsibilities of Internet Celebrities," where he warned a group of Big V's to be "more positive and constructive" in what they write online, according to an account of the event by the official Xinhua news agency.

That was followed by a series of detentions and interrogations, including that of Mr. Xue on Aug. 29.

In early September, China's highest court published an expanded interpretation of the criminal law that made social-media users subject to defamation charges and possible three-year prison terms if they spread rumors or posted slanderous content that attracted more than 5,000 hits or was reposted more than 500 times.

The campaign spread fear online, with a number of Weibo users speculating about who would be detained next. Real-estate mogul Pan Shiyi, who boasts more than 16 million followers on Weibo and is well known for his posts calling for cleaner air in China, highlighted the depths of that fear in September when he stuttered his way through a question on the responsibility of influential microbloggers during an interview on CCTV. "I feel that Big V's—people with lots of fans—should have even higher requirements of themselves, should have more discipline," he said, his voice wavering every few words.

The spectacle of Messrs. Pan and Xue toeing the party line on state television has led many observers to draw parallels with the political campaigns launched under Mao Zedong.

"In the 1950s and '60s, intellectuals often appeared in the official media admitting to their mistakes and saying the government was right to criticize them. This is a long Chinese tradition," said Hu Yong, an Internet scholar at Beijing University.

Multiple Big V's have said in interviews that they feel tremendous pressure as a result of the campaign. Some have said friends have advised them to lie low, or even leave China.

Weibo has weathered crackdowns in the past, including when rumors of a coup ricocheted through the site last year and led to the temporary shutdown of the commenting function both on Weibo and a rival service run by Tencent. But the severity of the current environment has some users and analysts questioning whether the service will emerge intact.

"In the past, [the crackdowns] were localized. This time it's national," said Qiao Mu, director of the Center for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He said past crackdowns were focused on specific incidents and individual posts. Now, "they're detaining people all over the country," he said.

"Sina Weibo is almost dead," said Hao Qun, a popular novelist better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun who said he has had multiple Weibo accounts deleted by Sina in the past year. "The activity and attractiveness of Weibo has fallen massively."

Data provided by analytics firm Weiboreach suggest that influential Weibo users are posting less often than they did in the past. The data, based on a random sample of 4,500 Sina Weibo accounts with more than 50,000 followers, show a 20% drop in aggregate monthly posts from January to August.

Despite signs that the service is losing some of its former luster, however, investors have been betting that Sina will be more valuable as a platform for e-commerce than as a town square. Reflecting that bet, Sina's share price is up almost 40% since the end of April, when Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group said it would acquire an 18% stake in Weibo for $586 million and drove anticipation of an integration of Alibaba's online shopping services into Weibo.

Sina, which hasn't commented publicly on the crackdown, didn't respond to requests to comment.

"[Sina] will no longer be so much a public opinion-driven platform…that era is over," said Bing-Sheng Teng, associate dean at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.

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News and updates about social media and the Internet are shared in this John Bohan blog site.


Need help finding the perfect gift? Try social media.
johnbohan
The perfect gift is a real shopping dilemma. Before the Internet, shoppers went through marketing spiels based on actual product information while talking to a telemarketer or a salesperson. Today, all they have to do is go online and check out reviews in review sites or follow the talk over social media.


Image Source: http://gatheryourcrowd.com/

Social media and peer influence when shopping for gifts actually changed the way people shop. Majority of gift buyers, or 64.8 percent of shoppers use social media to find the perfect gift. Some even use photo-centric social media platforms like Pinterest and Fancy. Furthermore, 92 percent of consumers trust social media more than they do other forms of advertising, which makes social media a deciding factor in gift-giving.


Image Source: http://blog.immediatefuture.co.uk

In buying gifts, Americans are also always on the lookout of the best deals. Bargains found on popular deal sites like Groupon are shared over social networks. Sixty-seven percent of shoppers will most likely share digital coupons from deal sites on Facebook to friends and family during the holidays.


Image Source: http://blog.cityhits.com/

With social media, looking for the perfect gift is less about leg power than clicking cleverness.

John Bohan believes in the power of social media to enhance brand strategies, which is why he established Socialtyze. More information about his company can be found at this site.


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REPOST: BlogHer '13: Where everyone knows your Twitter name
johnbohan
Women in social media gathered in Chicago for a two-day conference – a jampacked event where people know and address each other via their username. Read more about this fun assembly from this CNN.com article.


Bloggers unite at BlogHer 2013 this weekend in Chicago, Illinois.
Image Source:  edition.cnn.com


(CNN) -- The introductions at BlogHer, the largest conference in the world for women in social media, tend to go something like this:

"WellConnectdMom, so great to meet you," I said to a blogger whom I knew only by her Twitter handle.
"KellyWallaceTV, great to meet you too," she replied, using my Twitter handle.
That type of exchange happens hundreds, maybe thousands, of times at this conference, which opened Friday in Chicago. The chance to meet online connections in person is part of the reason women from all over the world gather for the two-day event. They also come to network, build potential business partnerships and burnish their brands overall.

"Well Connected Mom" Lori Cunningham expects to meet at least 200 people this year, her third BlogHer conference. She'll contact many of them when she returns home to continue networking and building upon common interests.
"It just is an opportunity to open a door that you wouldn't have if you didn't come to a BlogHer conference," said Cunningham, a mother of two from Los Angeles whose blog focuses on simplifying technology for women.
For first-time BlogHer attendees like Chicagoan Jamie Jensen, the goal is to build her blog, For Love of Cupcakes, into a full-time job that she can run as a "work-at-home mom."

"I'm hoping to just keep growing to where it can be a part-time income or eventually a full-time income," said Jensen, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, who works outside the home as a day-care teacher.
BlogHer is more than a conference. It's also a major cross-platform business that hosts 3,000 blogs and helps many more expand their reach through education and networking opportunities. The BlogHer publishing network has generated $25 million for about 5,000 female writers over the past four years, said BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone.
Most bloggers use this income to support their work and pay for business expenses; others use it to supplement their household income and support their families, she said.

Businesses understand the power of female bloggers, judging by the more than 130 brands -- from Coca-Cola to Samsung -- in attendance. And yet, mainstream media seem to marginalize what these women are doing.
Take a Wall Street Journal story this year that depicted blogger conferences as opportunities for women to party away from their husbands and kids.

"The sheer power of women on the Web is so clear statistically, and yet there is some ongoing prevailing effort to belittle that leadership," Stone said, citing stats showing women are 41% more likely to use social media than men.
"Good luck trying to put women who blog into a bell jar," Stone said. "They are going to ooze right out over the top and explode right in your face."

Still, among the public, there seems to be a lack of understanding of what a blogger is, says Amanda Rodriguez, a mom of three boys and host of Dude Mom.

Rodriguez, who is speaking on a panel this weekend, said she recently attended an event sponsored by the National Football League where no one seemed to understand what she did as a blogger. It's the same response she says she gets when she reveals her profession to people at airports or in the doctor's office.

"I think there's just a misconception about what bloggers do. They all think we're either like Perez Hilton or whatever random mommy blogger that they have read about on Oprah.com," the Frederick, Maryland, mom said.

"So I think it's up to us to sort of work really hard to change that perception," she said. "Hopefully other people will start to give the career a little more credence."
The BlogHer Conference, now in its ninth year and profiled recently in USA Today, aims to help by bringing attention to what female bloggers do.

Big-name speakers also help. Last year, President Obama gave a keynote via video conference. This year's closing keynote speaker is Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the much-talked-about book "Lean In."

Mainstream America may not understand the power and influence of bloggers. But parents who share tips about products or advice for getting kids to behave see the blog community as an extension of those support networks, said Cunningham.

There is another power that has nothing to do with educating the public. It has to do with women connecting with other women in ways they can't connect with their friends.

First-time conference attendee Sarah Evans hosts the blog It's a Vol, based on her love of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. She suffered from postpartum depression after her daughter was born. The women she met online, many of whom she is meeting for the first time at BlogHer, saved her, she says.
"When I had postpartum depression, there was nobody in my physical life at that point in time who could say 'I know what you went through,' " Evans said.

Through the BlogHer community, she met others who could relate to what she was going through and shared their experiences on their blogs.

"You can say, 'Look at this mother. She's fantastic. She made her way through this,' " she said. "I feel like that right now, and I can get through that. I can get to that point, too."

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