When we led our free class, Trends Worth Following: Tools for Advanced Social Media Users, on Tuesday, we had a tough time sticking to our ambitious one hour time limit. We got many questions that we thought were valuable, but didn't have time to answer them, so we've selected a few of them to go into more detail here:
We are a non profit helping veterans with PTSD free of charge. We want to reach older Americans, yet what you just stated is that not many older Americans use Facebook. What would be a good strategy or platform for us? Thank you.
In fact I think that Facebook is probably the right platform for your organization. We are seeing increasing numbers of individuals aged 50 and older joining Facebook. So while they don't make up anywhere near the majority of the Facebook population, they are one of the tool's fastest growing demographics
. Keep in mind, the older generation tends to take on more of a "watcher" persona on Facebook, interaction within the tool is kept to a minimum, but they are keeping tabs on people and organizations they care about and reading what is posted.
If our needs change and we are no longer using a social media channel, is it better to just stop updating it or delete the account?
If you have decided, as an organization, that you are no longer going to use a specific social media account for the long term our recommendation would be to inactivate the account instead of just ceasing to post. Although, as with most social media advice, it depends on your situation. Having a popular channel, like Facebook, that was used and then abandoned might raise questions about the existence of your organization. However, abandoning an account on a lesser used or "past its prime" tool is much less of an issue. If you decide to leave, I would say that deactivating an account instead of deleting it would be preferable, as if you decided at some point in the future to return to the tool your history would still be there to draw on.
We have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. Our audience on Twitter is virtually nonexistent. Is it wrong to drop it and put our time elsewhere? Do we delete our account entirely or leave it there even though we wouldn't be actively using it?
It is totally okay to decide that a particular tool is not working for you or your audience and to cut it loose. You only have a limited amount of time to spend on your day to day work, and there is no reason to spend time on something that you feel is not offering your organization an appropriate return on your investment. Specifically for Twitter, I'd say you would want to lean towards simply stopping to post for a while before you completely shut it down. After about a month, if you feel that you really don't miss it you can deactivate. Keep in mind that once you deactivate your Twitter account it will disappear fully in 30 days
, so make sure you really mean it!
Does the new Myspace have ads?
These days, just about every social media channel has some form of advertising. However, the ads in this case aren't especially jarring as they take the form of "featured" pages and content. Like the rest of the "New Myspace" redesign, most ads are very heavily focused on music.
If you're posting pictures of events/people, don't you need to get the individuals' permission first?
You should always have a signed agreement that states what a picture can be used for. This is especially true in the case of children. However, photos of events that are more pulled back and include a large number of less easily identifiable people don't require permission. Another great way to get photos is to have your followers take part in a photo contest, or encourage them to post their own pictures from events.
I manage a number of social media accounts. Any suggestions on social media management tools? Are there tools that can help update several of your online spaces simultaneously?
These are somewhat similar questions, but there is an important distinction. We generally recommend that you treat each social media channel totally independent of one another. For example, while a great photo from a fundraising event makes sense to post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and just about anywhere else you can think of, always sharing the same content across all of your social media channels can be less engaging to your followers, and will not play up to the strength of individual tools. Hootsuite is one commonly recommended social media management tool can post content to multiple social media channels, and even multiple accounts on the same channel.
Do you think Twitter will eventually overtake Facebook?
I would doubt that. According to a PEW Research Center report
from February 2013, 67 percent of internet users have a Facebook page compared with just 16 percent on Twitter. Twitter has become a huge resource, and is great for keeping a pulse on what's going on in the world, your interests, and your friends, but it doesn't have the personal feel, or page customization possibilities of Facebook. Furthermore, I don't think they're necessarily mutually exclusive. The types of content you might share on Facebook probably won't translate directly to the short form of twitter. No matter what tool you're using, it's important to consider what kind of content you want to post and who you want to reach before you start considering which one is currently on top.
Does the downside of the hype cycle coincide with the social networking platforms trying to figure out a revenue model that will support their infrastructure (i.e. there is no such thing as free)?
It can. The hype cycle is a fascinating model, but it doesn't match up with every single social media tool. Sometimes it takes tools a long time to get off the ground, sometimes they drop off in users due to lack of updates to a site, or lose users because it's not meeting the expectations. The point of referencing the hype cycle is to show how the latest tools aren't always going to take over the world, even if tech media makes it sound that way. In general, it's hard for anything to meet inflated expectations when word spreads so quickly online, and not having a revenue model prior to launching can expedite that process.