Social Media from the Seasoned

history-of-social-mediaHuman history began 4,000 BCE. Social media in its modern form? Started in 1997 with the site Six Degrees. Putting these two timelines together may seem ridiculous, and admittedly is a bit, but there is a point. With social media being such a recent innovation compared to many skills still heavily used and valued by society today, such as accounting, what can social media media professionals teach us about this roughly 20 year old skill set?

I’ve had the opportunity to hear from industry experts from McGarrah Jessee, Splash Media Group LLC, and other both large and small social media marketing firms. These individuals have covered everything from creating useful branded content to establishing client relationships (and more). Although a new field, there is definitely a large group of driven individuals working towards continuously evolving and growing the usefulness of social media for business. I’m going to attempt to encapsulate a few of the important points at an extremely high level.

Biggest Applicable Advice

When interacting with people on a day to day basis, what do you prefer? A person who talks about themselves and what they have accomplished, or people who provide valuable advice and interesting conversation? Well, social media experts have realized that businesses can create a relationships with people that represent the latter through content marketing.

Content marketing seems to be a phrase that all of these social media professionals, across multiple industry and business sizes, have been repeating or hinting at. “Make it interesting” or “Make your content something people want to read”. With the deluge of ads that people see everyday, and the myriad of ways to avoid seeing these adds, advertisers now have to convince people that they want to spend time looking at ads. This same concept can be applied everywhere.

Whenever communicating with others, be genuine, interesting and most importantly create value so that people want to listen. Sticking with these pillars can go a long way.

The days of useless and noisy banner advertising are over.

Attributes of Social Media Professionals

There seem to be two types of primary skills that are needed to be successful at social media marketing. The first, an analytical ability to extrapolate data into stories and actionable items for advertising. What do I mean?

Building profiles of the target customer, measuring what works and what doesn’t, basically collecting every piece of data that is available and having the ability to develop strategies around these data points. Looking at Hops and Grain, a local brewery, the social media strategist has been able to learn from data and create a social media profile and brand that people find interesting and go out of their way to view.

Looking at the below pictures can you see a common theme? Outdoorsy, lifestyle type photos that sneak in the beer and branding into the picture in somewhat subtle ways.

Hops and Grain insta.PNG

The second major attribute I noticed was that all of the individuals, no matter how data driven they are, seem to be creatives. What I mean is that these professionals love coming up with new and clever ideas.

This seems to be needed due to social media being a medium that can produce widely varied results. Content must be instantaneous, in the moment, and clever, or risk becoming a Red Lobster. If a professional can’t come up with new ideas that capture people’s attention, success in social media is unlikely.

Quick Takeaways

  1. At the end of the day, using social media as a microphone doesn’t work.
  2. Be consistent online (and in life)…but really, nothing disappears once it’s online.
  3. Don’t feed the trolls. There are toxic followers, just like their are toxic customers. Be aware of who with and how you’re spending time on social media.

After hearing these different speakers, I don’t have plans to apply these learnings directly on pursuing a career in social media. Luckily these lessons can be applied outside of conducting advertising for a business client. I plan to apply the concepts to my career and developing a personal professional brand.

Curating With Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the titans of social media management software. Hootsuite has clearly had a successful run thus far, receiving $246.9 million of funding from 11 investors in total. You don’t get the backing of major investment firms and over 10 million users of a product purely by luck. The reason I have a sudden interest? Basically it comes down to one thing…curation, which is currently a time consuming process. What do I need?

  1. Simplify the inbound and outbound data feeds I am plugged into. All I want is to spend less time monitoring and looking at social media, while still getting all the information…easy, right?
  2. Have one source for analytics related to my online presence(s).


Currently I’m using Twitter, Medium, WordPress, and LinkedIn. After clicking around the website and looking at a few of the training courses, the first criteria can be easily satisfied.

Within Hoosuite’s web-app there is an interface that can be easily used to consolidate some of the sources I identified above. WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn can all be consolidated through the use of this tool. Unfortunately Medium is not supported. Three out of four isn’t too bad…

Hootsuite picture.PNGOnce the Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress accounts have been added to Hootsuite, all the standard streams that would be available on the separate sites are available within Hoosuite, in one page. There is also an extremely useful feature where pre-selected search terms and hashtag streams from Twitter can be added, which saves me time on typing out “data” and “BI” repeatedly. That’s a check on the first use case.


Hootsuite comes with a few pre-built reports for Twitter, WordPress, and LinkedIn, but custom reports appear to be were the real power is. Using a custom template, a single page that combines different measures, charts and graphs from multiple webpages into one report can be made.

As a side note, it appears that there is a severe limit when using the free tier. Building one report used up all the resources I was allocated for the month…So unless all the analytics needs fit into a single report, I will have to start paying. Definitely not a plus…

Hootsuite Report

Beautiful Reports

Hootsuite had many of the capabilities I expected. Combining different social media streams, aggregating information, building visualizations, etc. seemed to be present in this tool. What I was surprised at was the complexity of the tool and getting it set up with all my accounts. Honestly, I was expecting a more user friendly use product. This may not be entirely Hootsuite’s fault…

Going forward, I’m curious what competitor products are available. Would these other products meet my use case better? A quick search reveals that the social media management space is packed full of products, many of them free. For now, Hootsuite has met one of my use cases I was originally looking to solve. Going forward I full plan to examine different tools, and choose a tool that is…freer? Also being compatible with more websites would be a plus.

Uses of YouTube

Well, I’ve done Facebook, so might as well move onto YouTube right? Facebook of course has video, and who will win the YouTube vs. Facebook video showdown is very much up for debate. Due to the tech of both of the platforms being at the top of their game, and the user community of YouTube being just as atrocious as the Facebook there aren’t many surface level differences. So what distinguishes YouTube from Facebook?

How to Videos:

YouTube has always been a great channel for getting to how to videos. Everything from car repairs to software programming videos are on the site. Does the same content exist on Facebook? Let’s see…

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Comparing the two, YouTube looks much cleaner, and more to the point. I don’t see a “Trending” bar on the right side of the screen, or my Facebook friend’s post as the first result. This may be due to YouTube being owned by Google, but the search results are much cleaner and to the point.


In my Facebook post, I mentioned the low quality of content on the Facebook professional groups. With YouTube, the focus isn’t on the social aspect. When subscribing to a channel, all that is presented to the viewer is content from the channel. Due to this, the potential effect that the vapid user base of YouTube could have on getting to the content is minimized. Facebook puts the user community interactions front and center, while YouTube makes you dig to the comments section to interact with the fellow users.

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I subscribed to three channels, The Economist, Fizzle, and TedxTalks in order to explore a range of topics applicable to my career. While the focus of each of these three channels is different, the general reasoning behind the selections is that I want resources centered around world events and trends, with Fizzle throwing in more specific information on marketing, entrepreneurship, and building a brand. Having targeted content at your fingertips is always a good thing in my book. The other big plus of YouTube? Whatever of these three channels that I navigate to on YouTube, the information is displayed efficiently and the noise present in Facebook is not present.

Establishing an Online Presence:

YouTube offers to host videos for free, so why not take advantage of this…

The other plus? My high school friends aren’t friends with me on YouTube, so this is totally green pasture. Hosting videos on YouTube seems to be yet another location that an online presence can be established that is professionally facing. Overall, YouTube is much more usable and useful for video sharing and sharing non-personal information. I much prefer the subscriptions and search engine of YouTube to Facebook’s clutter.

If you are trying to build a personal brand, or learn about…really anything I guess? YouTube is a great source. Find channels that would be helpful, subscribe, and watch the content in an incredible friendly user interface. Additionally, if the mood strikes, anyone can easily post an elevator pitch to add a more personal touch to their online presence. If I have anything technical to show, or how to videos that I’m going to do, they will be on YouTube. At this point, I’m fully content to be a watcher until I have content that will be enhanced by sharing through video.

What’s Facebook Good For?

Facebook, the worlds biggest social network. Facebook’s main uses for most people include yelling at others over opinions, sharing baby pictures, and other equally important activities that include content from people and companies around the world. The big question, and one that Facebook’s currently trying to make visible, is what are the other uses of Facebook?

For Marketing

There are two main user groups of Facebook for marketing, the first being large companies and the second being individual entrepreneurs running small establishments. It is a completely free way for small businesses to establish an online presence, and for large companies it is another outlet in which they can interact with consumers. With that in mind, anyone who maintains a Facebook page for an entity other than themselves must be aware of both the positive and negative results that can occur.
Thunderbird Facebook Page.PNG
Thunderbird Coffee, a local coffee shop, has a page that is being used effectively. Thunderbird uses this to engage with customers, put a human face on their business, and promote special events which are designed to draw in customers. A small business can use Facebook as an effective and low cost way to get in direct contact with clients. For the larger companies Facebook is a risky way to generate buzz and business. Does the good word of mouth outweigh the negative word of mouth?
American Airlines

For Learning

Facebook appears to have its sights set on making Facebook a resource for professional groups and distribution of articles. While the distribution system is not yet stood up, there are a number of career orientated professional groups that are present on the site. These professional webpages are similar in look and function to LinkedIn groups, with the quality of comments and content being the differentiator between the two.
I joined the below SAP group and found many of the comments on the page were individuals plugging themselves or something that they are looking to sell. While this is just one instance of a professionally orientated group on Facebook, the intent of Facebook has traditionally not been for professional purposes. From this experience, it appears that Facebook is going to have to shift the culture of the user base if Facebook hopes to compete with LinkedIn.
Facebook Group Joined.PNG

From Publishers Point of View

Creating a page for a company or organization is extremely easy. Logging in with my personal account and creating a page for a fictitious company took no more than five minutes. This may part of the explanation as to why there are so many poor examples of pages and posts from presumably professional organizations. Unfortunately, while easy to set up, to access some of the features present in these pages, such as analytic dashboards, a page must have 30 likes/follows. Regardless, for a real company Facebook is an excellent platform for advertising and direct company to customer interaction.
Customer Interactions Facebook
Outside of the business interactions with customers and personal non-professional interactions with friends, Facebook is limited in functionality. It will be a while before Facebook is anything more than an add platform, but Facebook definitely has the ambition and the funds to evolve into an entirely different company than it is today.

The Successes (and Issues) with Snapchat

Before I start this, full disclosure, I’m highly skeptical of the current valuations of some of the new social media companies. Of all of these, I find it hard to believe that Snapchat’s valuation is accurate at $16 billion. While it makes sense that owning the medium where people place there eyes for hours a day is worth a large value as a marketing platform, how can that high of a valuation be justified? Looking at the balance sheet of Snapchat, it appears that companies are willing to pay to get advertising in front of Snapchat users, but not nearly enough to justify the valuation. This brings me to the next question. How does a phone app that a $16 billion company was founded on look and perform?

Snapchat Landing Page

In order to answer this question, I started by signing up for an account. All things considered, they do have a nice landing page and signing up was easy. Download the app, enter an email address, and get started. I created the handle mgreis25 and was instantly opening the app on my phone and inviting to connect with friends who already had Snapchat. The user interface is intuitive, with five simple buttons that are used from the main screen to interact with the app. Straight off the bat there are two main things that make this app a cool and innovative experience.

The Good:

Screenshot_2016-02-11-20-38-42.pngThe first is the medium. The fact that people are interacting almost entirely through pictures and videos makes the communications more relatable and engaging. With over 90% of people in the US having smartphones, why don’t consumers and businesses orient pictures and video into more communications? A five second video is much more illuminating than a 140 character Tweet.

The second big feature delivers more than a twitter hashtag will ever be able to. The ability of the Live Feed compilations to show an event that is currently happening and bring you into the moment to see all the craziness, or ordinariness, at certain events is truly unique. This is unlike anything that I have experienced on a social media platform to date.

The Bad:

The big issue I see with Snapchat is the fact that the content is not permanent. After viewing the Snapchat, you cannot save for viewing later. Did you like what you just saw? Well you won’t be able to view it ever again. While it makes sense considering Snapchat’s somewhat scandalous origin, I’m not a fan.

The Future:

Taking into account the humble origins of the app, the founders and creators need to realize that in order to appeal to a wider market they need to remove the auto deleting post feature. Let the people keep their Snapchats! By having the sender choose whether the receiver is allowed to keep the Snapchat, they will be able to retain the original functionality while gaining new users who want to keep the content that is shared and received.
Snapchat DemographicsThe users of this app are primarily between 13-25 and majority female. There has yet to be a foot hold established in the older user demographic. The younger demographics appear to be using this app the best. I have yet to find/hear of a review of the content Screenshot_2016-02-09-18-55-26older users are posting, but older individuals are generally not too fond of Snapchat. Considering the secretive nature of Snapchat content sharing, the entities who are truly using this medium effectively as a marketing platform are the companies that are paying big money to be featured within the app underneath the Discover and Live sections. Snapchat is extremely proud of some of the successes that they have had, an example being the marketing for Fast and Furious. If a user clicks on the bottom right menu, they are lead to feeds for different live events and business entities. Once inside a corporation’s Snapchats, the user has the ability to watch a slew of videos and easily share with friends in one swipe.

Snapchat is a slick application for younger users and can be an effective marketing platform for high paying corporate customers, but I don’t think that valuation of $16 billion is reasonable. With Snapchat retaining no content from the users and only allowing for large companies to broadcast their message, the company is limited on how many paths it can take to generate revenue. Whereas Facebook allows for small businesses to advertise locally by paying on an ad-by-ad basis and gathers vast amounts of personal data, Snapchat does not allow this. At best I see the company rapidly losing value unless the business model changes drastically, becoming a shell of its former self. At worst, Snapchat may die as the user base ages and has less interesting content and time to share with one another, reducing the user base.