Using the S3 Timeline and Buzz Etiquette

S3Buzz, S3 TimelineA handful of new features in the S3 dashboard have made a real difference in the way our Buzz community communicates with each other.

To illustrate this point, we reached out on the S3 timeline and received a helpful list of Buzz tips from Susan Connor of Clear Vision Enterprises in Australia.

It’s always fun to hear guidance from users who have been testing out the product since its inception. Susan is an avid user of Buzz technology and continues to be one of our most helpful community members and beta testers, having been in our world since the early days of XeeMe.

Thanks to Susan for her insight! Be sure to connect with her here.

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1) Use the S3 timeline to your advantage.

One of the best improvements to the S3 dashboard (where the Buzz app is accessed) has been the addition of a public, Facebook-like timeline.

When you create a Buzz, the public timeline will automatically post an update to let the community know that your campaign is ready for action.

The S3 timeline is a great place to post a question or link for other community members, and offers an excellent opportunity to connect with someone on all of their social networks via their XeeMe profile.

S3 Dashboard Timeline, Society3

2) Listen for feedback.

Our community will offer suggestions to a Buzz Master whose Buzz story could be improved or corrected.

Be sure to check the S3 timeline, as well as the main Buzz Facebook Group, during the few hours after you launch a Buzz.

Acknowledging advice from others will strengthen trust within the community and help you build your own team of advocates.

S3Buzz, S3 Timeline, Feedback

3) Notify the Buzz Master directly if a Buzz has a flaw.

On each Buzzlet, you’ll see who organized the campaign. Clicking on their name will lead to their XeeMe profile, where you can leave them a note. This is a more discreet way of letting someone know they might have made an error. Otherwise, a public timeline notification is perfectly fine.

4) There’s a difference between the qualitative and quantitative results of a Buzz.

Focus on working with supporters who offer real value and authenticity online. There can be a tendency to focus solely on the number of mentions in a Buzz, but don’t forget the fine line between amplification and spam. Don’t compromise your reputation and risk getting banned on certain networks.

Susan holds a personal belief as a community developer: individuals can experience “prestige loss if trust factors are broken.”

Measure qualitative results in a Buzz (the quality of the supporter network and the level of teamwork) versus quantitative results (relying solely on the number of Buzz mentions as a success metric) carefully. A focus on the latter risks spamming your audience for short-term gain.

S3 Buzz, S3 Buzz Analytics

5) Follow the golden rule.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

If you are invited and commit to a Buzz Team, make sure to do your part and support that Buzz Master whenever a new Buzz is released.

When you access a Buzz from your Xee Notes, there is a benefit to the Buzz Master as well as to you as the Buzz supporter (aka Warrior).

6) If you have made a mistake, you can pause or terminate the Buzz.

Unlike a traditional advertising campaign, the Buzz story can be edited on-the-fly, and Buzz campaigns can be paused or terminated altogether, which will refund the credits you have remaining in the campaign.

7) Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Buzz is an incredible driver of mentions and reach, but occasionally there’s a hiccup in the system. Speak up if you see something wonky — chances are, it’ll benefit the whole community. Shout to @S3Grp on Twitter.

Learn more about Buzz best practices here.

Our thanks again to Susan Connor!

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What Technology Taught Us in 2013

snapchatTechnology in 2013 was about a faceless crypto-currency (Bitcoin), faces that disappear (Snapchat) and facing the music (Healthcare.gov). It was about the face of education being turned upside down by Codecademy, Coursera and the Khan Academy. It was the year of the kid engineer (The Hour of Code), of re-engineering our view of everyday life (Google Glass) and of engines powered by electricity (Tesla). Being an early adopter of technology was once the pastime of gadget hobbyists; now, entire generations are wondering which programming languages they should learn first.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

If we had to choose an image that defined technology this year, it might be the friendly ghost logo of the Snapchat application. The young, fledgling company turned down a three-billion dollar offer from Facebook, despite Facebook’s successful acquisition of photo-sharing app Instagram for a third of that price, under a billion dollars, just a year earlier. Unlike the 400 million photos shared every day by its users, more than Facebook and Instagram combined, Snapchat’s ghostly profits have yet to appear.

The self-destructing photo messaging service belies the permanency and archival nature of social networks like Facebook and Twitter; it captures a moment in time that disappears once its intended viewer watches it. Do you remember the last time you held a physical photo, or made an analog photo album? Polaroid had it right when they introduced instantly produced, physical pictures that could last a lifetime; a faded photo used to maintain a deeper meaning, a cherished memory. Now we like our memories instantly disposable. What does that say about us as a culture?

The Hour of Code: Learning the ABCs of HTML/CSS, PHP and APIs

code“Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.” This was the key concept behind the Hour of Code, which took place from December 9 to December 15 during Computer Science Education Week 2013. The efforts of its host, Code.org, and supporters like Ashton Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg created a user base of 15 million students in 170 countries within just 5 days; it took Facebook 3 years to get to that number. Notably, more girls participated in computer science in U.S. schools during Computer Science Education Week 2013 than in the last 70 years combined. On a slightly related note, 70% of Snapchat’s users are women; it would appear that a significant gender shift is taking place in both educational and recreational technology.

Being able to code is becoming as vital as a college degree once was; both are seen as essential to a successful career path. Not surprisingly, several comprehensive sites have emerged to bring coding education to the masses. Codecademy, founded in 2011 by a Columbia University dropout named Zach Sims, is a web-based programming tutorial designed to teach HTML/CSS, Javascript/jQuery, Python, Ruby, PHP, and APIs. Learning begins instantaneously on the home page, and students of every age at any level will find the experience both fun and addictively interactive.

Codecademy has offered a free “Code Year” in each of the last two years, enabling users to start fulfilling their New Year’s resolution to learn how to code right on January 1, with a new course available each week. Online education continues to gain interest; Coursera, in partnership with Stanford University and Yale University, offers free online classes from over 80 top universities and organizations covering a broad range of topics, as does the Khan Academy, which touts “free online education for anyone, anywhere” and reaches over 10 million students a month.

What did technology teach you this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Return of Storytelling: Long-form is Alive

typingWe have become accustomed to thinking and publishing in quick burst formats, thanks to micro-blogging platforms like Twitter. Texting isn’t exactly helping the cause. But 5 sources mentioned below paint a different picture: an under-served demographic has emerged, one that wants to tell (and be told) a story in more than 500 words. 

While editing a video the other day, I checked its length and gasped. If there is such a thing as “content etiquette” on the web, it would dictate that the video shouldn’t be longer than 2 minutes, perhaps even closer to 90 seconds. Respecting your audience’s time is important.

Mine was 25 minutes long. Ok, 25 minutes and 46 seconds.

For some reason, after hours of editing the audio to exclude my “umms”, long pauses and throat-clearings, the video was still at 25 minutes. Keep in mind, this was a tutorial video for a software product — far from sexy. But to me, the video couldn’t be much shorter; I had followed a step-by-step process in my narration, with an accompanying script of key points to cover.

My editor would be the final judge, so I decided to send him the video in its entirety. What he said caught my attention:

“I like it… on one hand, it is way too long… on the other hand, older marketers might appreciate a longer explanation.”

His point underscored a broader truth: the general audience online has become increasingly fragmented, not only in how they consume content, but for how long they consume it. In a recent article on gigaOM, it was noted that more than a third of all YouTube viewing comes from long-form content.

After years of indulging in bite-sized content on social networks, finding longer articles and videos has become a refreshing exercise. Reading on mobile devices is much more enjoyable now, with HTML5 and responsive web design enabling words and images to break free from the confines of traditional site templates. Apps like Pocket allow you to save long articles to read later.

In my journey to uncover long-form journalism, I noted these 5 excellent sources:

Publet

“Publet lets you create beautiful digital publications that work on any device. With built-in analytics, you can learn how people read your content to increase customer engagement and sales.”

Publet is an innovative publication platform that harnesses the power of HTML5 to help you create PDF-like documents (ebooks, white papers) for self-syndication. Not only do you have much greater control over how your content formats across the web, you also get a much deeper analysis into how far your audience actually reads and what they respond to.

publet, long-form, content

Medium

The coolest part about Medium — every article shows you how many minutes it will take to read. Sure, the Amazon Kindle app has an identical feature, but there is something magical about the simplicity and clean interface that Medium offers. The words are the star of the show.

Medium is the antithesis to Twitter and the 140 character concept. Launched in 2012 by Twitter co-creators Biz Stone and Ev Williams, Medium is a stream-lined CMS and blogging platform for articles that “are over 140 characters, and not just for friends.” One year into its life, Medium is an invite-only community of quality bloggers and editors that remains as mysterious as Twitter was in its early days.

medium, long-form

Longreads

If you’re active on Twitter, you may have spotted the hashtag #longreads accompanying a fantastic 1500+ word article. Founder Mark Armstrong began #longreads in 2009 as a way to share and collect the most popular long-form articles on the web. 4 years later, the site hosts a deep repository of stories that follow the only requirements for a #longreads submission — 1500 or more words that take no more than 6 minutes to read.

longreads, long-form

Vox Media (The Verge / Polygon / Curbed / Eater / Racked / SBNation)

Vox has become a long-form publishing powerhouse, with 6 thoroughbred sites in their stable. Boasting extraordinary style from design firm Code & Theory, Vox sites each offer a gorgeous and inviting experience for their readers.

For tech lovers, be sure to see the latest articles on The Verge, and gamers will have a blast at Polygon. Foodies would do well to check out Eater, and house hunters will find Curbed to be right up their alley.

vox media, long-form

Nowhere Mag

Porter Fox, with 15 years of experience in the travel writing industry, founded Nowhere Mag to showcase longer, more illuminating stories about the adventure of travel. In response to typical travel posts that focus solely on tips and recommendations from travelers, Nowhere Mag is a journal of literary travel writing, photography and art.

nowhere mag, long-form

Do you have a favorite long-form site to recommend? Please let us know in the comments below!

 

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7 Elements of a Successful Buzz Campaign

S3Buzz, Society3 Buzz, Buzz Advertising, Axel SchultzeBuzz is a powerful way to let your customers tell their story about your brand. When you provide them with a launching pad for positive mentions and recommendations in their own voice, across many networks, good things happen. But it’s not all magic — there are key elements in making a successful Buzz.

Here are 7 things to keep in mind as you craft your Buzz campaign.

1) Define Your Objective

Identifying the core objective of your Buzz campaign is a crucial first step. Are you looking to drive awareness for an event? You might want to link back to a landing page to capture signups rather than link back to your home page, and ensure the word “signup” is clear and prominently represented within your Buzz description.

Your story should be easy to understand at a glance. The flexibility of Buzz technology allows you to craft any story you’d like, and it can point back to any online presence. It is an instant amplification of your customer’s voice. They can customize the story to fit the tone they would normally use with their own audience, so provide them with a story to share that allows for flexible language.

Setting campaign milestones along the way will help you better understand how your story has resonated with your audience.

2) An Enticing Headline

The headline conveys the concept of your Buzz to the customers and friends who will support it on their social networks. It is displayed prominently at the top of the “Buzzlet”, but it is not included in the actual story of the Buzz unless you decide to include the same wording within the message. The shorter the better — we know that attention spans are ever-decreasing. Feel free to spice it up to draw more attention.

Society3, S3Buzz, Buzz Marketing, Rob Nielsen3) A Well-Constructed Story

For the story you want your customers and friends to share about your brand, event or product, what are the most meaningful words you’d hope they’d say? Make that your description, and summarize it in your Buzz story. Give your advocates suggestions — up to 10 with the new Multi-Story Buzz feature, which rotates the story in your Buzz every 3 hours to keep the conversation varied as the campaign is fulfilled.

4) A Mobilized Buzz Support Team

As you can see in the “Buzzlet” below (lower-left corner, below the words “Buzz Page”), each Buzz campaign has its own corresponding URL which can be easily emailed to any and all of your customers, employees, friends and family. If you give them a heads-up before it goes “live”, they’ll know to look out for the link you’ll be sending them.



5) Hashtag Research

Each Buzz campaign has its own corresponding hashtag of your choice, which is included each time your story is shared. This enables ease-of-tracking with a variety of tools (including our own proprietary Buzz Analytics feature), so be sure to choose a hashtag that is relevant and unique. Tip: search it on Twubs.com to see if you can register it, and enter it in Twitter search to see how often it is used, if at all.

6) Be Ready to Respond

The good news about Buzz: it rapidly ignites conversation. But if you’re asleep at the wheel, you might miss some fantastic opportunities to connect with your core community. Be sure to track your hashtag on Twitter using the Topsy tool, or keep an eye on mentions in HootSuite, and thank those who support you in real-time. Maintaining the conversation solidifies the bond your brand has with your customers and grows the reach of your story.

7) Timeline

Timing is the most important element in a well-executed Buzz campaign. Decide how long you want your campaign to run so that you know when to monitor activity. Plan a small timeline in the days leading up to the launch of your Buzz campaign so that your supporters are well-informed about what is expected of them. Alert your Buzz support team in a clear, coordinated manner so that everyone is on the same page.

HINT: You can use the “Buzz Repeat Rate” to spread out the number of actions your supporters can take (every 3 hours, every 6 hours, etc) and lengthen the campaign before all of the Buzz actions are depleted.

Please reach out to us on Twitter with any questions, or contact Marita Roebkes at +1 (650) 384-0057 to learn more about purchasing and setting up a Buzz campaign.

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How Much Are American Shoppers Spending on Gifts?

christmas dollarThe Christmas shopping surge is upon us in retail stores nationwide. Sales performance during this season is crucial for businesses, especially those with brick and mortar locations, and the continued adoption of social networks for customer product recommendations would seem to be a driving force in the year-over-year growth of U.S. holiday spending.

Check out the #1 most desired gift this year in the infographic below… that’s quite a surprise, isn’t it?

In 2012, holiday shopping accounted for nearly 20% of all retail industry sales. Our spending domestically has been on a continued uptrend for the last several holiday seasons; this has been one factor in the ability of businesses to take on an additional 720,000 workers during this time of year.

Black Friday, perhaps the worst of the faux holidays and a day that promises to ruin the Thanksgiving tradition in America, has seen steadily increasing numbers despite the relatively neutral economic forecast of recent months. Thankfully this hasn’t affected Christmas tree sales, with nearly 25 million of them being strapped to car rooftops everywhere last year.

As for online sales, there looks to be a solid boom for this holiday season, as Thanksgiving Day saw a 60% increase in online spending versus the year prior, crossing the billion dollar mark. With a healthy 29% increase forecasted for 2013, we can assume our favorite local malls will still be packed with frenzied shoppers hunting for discounts.

But the crowds aren’t just in stores — they’re on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, sharing subtle and often not-so-subtle product references and recommendations. Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing, according to this infographic, and we’d have to agree. If you consider how we make our choices when the time comes to brave the crowds and gather gifts for our families, where do you often get insight on what to buy and where to buy it?

The growth of mobile apps, combined with the vast reach of social networks, means that recommendations from friends, family and peers can often be found in your Facebook newsfeed, or even in the background of one of your Instagram photos, and they are a strong force in your decision making process. 80% of purchase decisions are based on the mentions and recommendations of others.

And when was the last time you saw a TV commercial that didn’t have a hashtag associated with it? Conservative retail analysts feel that social media’s role in retail conversion is not accurately measurable, if at all. Recent insight into social activity around the 2013 holiday season points to a very different conclusion; on the whole, nearly 7 million tweets this year mentioned at least 1 of the top 10 most desired products for this Christmas.

Let us know in the comments below where you’ll be doing your holiday shopping this season. What’s on your list?

 

How Much Are American Shoppers Spending This Year?

 

 

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Giving Thanks to the Buzz Community

Society3, S3BuzzIn honor of the Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S., the team here at Society3 would like to take a moment to give thanks to our community for all of your help this year.

Your thoughts, feedback and discussions in the Facebook Groups as well as on our many webinars have been instrumental in shaping our product and company culture — from the early days of testing XeeMe to these past several years developing the technology for S3Buzz.

Because Society3 is about teamwork, education and working together towards a common goal, we’d like to highlight a few individuals who make S3 an extra special family. These friends go above and beyond to ensure that each of us gets the awareness and exposure we need for our Buzz campaigns, while also teaching us new ways to improve and strengthen our professional social presences.

At the end of each section, you’ll notice a XeeMe link that leads to all social profiles for that person — be sure to visit and connect with each of these amazing members of the Society3 community!

Berrie Pelser, Ber Art, Society3, S3BuzzBerrie Pelser | S3 Partner

Berrie co-founded his company, BER/ART Visual Design, in 1999 as a web design firm. It has since grown into a full-service agency for maintaining complete corporate websites hosted by BER/ART in a secure and fast cloud environment. He is a strategic partner of S3.

Berrie inspired the creation of S3Buzz, and has made many significant contributions to the development of the technology since its inception.

Berrie can attest to the power of Buzz Marketing and it’s powerful effect as the “new SEO”. His frequent Buzz campaigns, focused on insightful infographics, have enabled many Buzzers to earn credits to help them create their own Buzz campaigns.

Connect with Berrie Pelser here → http://xeeme.com/BerArt

Annie Diamond, Society3, S3BuzzAnnie Diamond

Annie is an ultimate connector who thrives on people, products and passion. Based in the UK, Annie has built a LinkedIn presence of over 29,000 connections, providing the foundation of her portfolio of 2-Tier Affiliate Programs. Annie is a long-time independent affiliate with BrandGoLive and AWeber Communications.

Connect with Annie here → http://xeeme.com/AnnieDiamond

 

Andrew Baker, XeeMe, Society3, S3BuzzAndrew S. Baker

Andrew is a Virtual CIO at BrainWave Consulting Company, LLC, where he focuses on Information Security and IT Operations. He has brought a vast array of skills and insights to the XeeMe and Buzz communities, helping us understand and test the more technical aspects of our products. His advice has been invaluable in keeping our corporate environment secure.

Connect with Andrew here → http://xeeme.com/AndrewBaker

 

Ken Danieli, XeeMe, S3BuzzKen Danieli

Ken is a brand strategist and marketing consultant with an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. He brings over 25 years of branding experience with Pepsico, and has been a key piece to the implementation and execution of Buzz technology. Ken consistently provides crucial feedback and helps all members of the S3 community as they carry out Buzz campaigns.

Connect with Ken here → http://xeeme.com/wittier

 

We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season!

 

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