What’s social strategy?

Social strategy must solve a social problem in a way that others cannot easily duplicate and that either lowers costs or differentiates the business by adding value to its existing offer.

I found this mantra in the article “Why Your Social Strategy Is Broken And How To Fix It”, and I think it’s the perfect way to express what anyone should have in mind when thinking about social media and digital strategy: what should this do for me that is valuable both for me and my audience?

 

 

What should social media be like

The best thing about the Internet is that it’s an open network. You can just connect your computer, open your browser and see any website you want -except if you are using some versions of Internet Explorer. You can open your email client or web-mail service, and email anybody you want as long as you have their email address. And of course you can create your own browser or email client knowing that, following the existing standards, it will work.

This quality of the Internet, its openness, is so important we fight fiercely against any attempt to kill it (SOPA, PIPA, Ley Sinde, Hadopi… you name it). Yet we are letting social media destroy the openness of the Internet by creating closed platforms that get so big you can’t just leave them.

Imagine that you could only call or send and SMS to those friends who have the contracts with the same provider than you do. Or that Gmail users could only email Gmail users. That’s exactly what happens with most social media platforms: you need to have Facebook to interact with your Facebook friends, WhatsApp to talk to your WhatsApp friends, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Skype, Google+, Messenger, BBM, iMessage… there is even a whole business of services like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial just to manage all your profiles from one place!

Think about it. How much time do we waste keeping all those profiles up to date and checking if any friend posted something somewhere? How many people would like to quite Facebook but can’t because all their friends and literally 10 years of their life are already there? What’s the point of uploading all your pictures and tagging everyone if sooner or later that platform is going to be done, closed and forgotten? How on Earth are you going to try something new if first you need to convince all your friends to try it too so it actually makes sense to use it?

I believe the need of supreme power and control that companies like Facebook or Google feel is killing our relationship with the Internet. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have your personal profile in a way that you can do whatever you want with it? Just think of a supercharged email system. Some kind of standard format to keep your digital history (posts, links shared, images posted, profile picture, contacts…) in one place, and do whatever you want with it. So if I like Facebook but you are done with it and want to try Google+ we can still be friends and talk to each other without both having to keep two accounts in different places.

This system would also be tremendously beneficial for new businesses. Instead of having to steal millions of users at once from other platforms you could go ahead and create your own system, conquering users one by one. Platforms focused on design and customization, platforms based on ease of use and strong privacy settings, platforms supported by advertising, platforms where users have to pay to keep their accounts…. we could have specialized platforms for small niches with specific needs, something that currently is just unthinkable because it’s not a sustainable business -and because it doesn’t make sense if you can’t talk with everybody else.

In brief, the idea is that with a standardized social media environment the possibilities would be endless. As they always have been with the Internet, and as they should always be.

What do you think?

What do you share on the Internet?

This video of a mind reader using publicly available information from different social media to impress his “clients” contains a really important lesson: in a few minutes and some clicks anyone can find who you are, what do you like and even some of your financial information. So it should make you be aware of what kind of information are you sharing and help you understand the importance of spending as much time as it takes to learn how do the privacy settings work.

AuthorRank: Google keeps pushing Google+ through SEO

Some months ago I wrote an article about how Google+ seem to be killing SEO, since Google was starting to use data from G+ data to rank pages in its search engine. Well, according to this article in SEOmoz, the company is going to keep working in the same direction to try to boost their social platform. The new weapon is AuthorRank, a new element in Google’s algorithm that will take in consideration the author of the contents in order to rank a page.

Let’s face it: if you are searching something like “SEO tips after Penguin” you probably are more interested in reading Matt Cutts’ opinion than mine, even if his article is in a site with really low PageRank. So I think it makes sense to give some extra SEO juice to those articles signed by people with a well gained reputation in their field. That’s basically the idea behind the influence economy and tools like Klout or PeerIndex, and its concept is actually pretty similar to Pagerank: the more incoming links (people following you) the more interesting you probably are.

The problem is that it seems AuthorRank is going to use mainly (if not exclusively) data from Google+. Meaning that for Google you are not interesting unless a lot of people add you to their circles in Google+ and give you as many “+1″ as possible. In order words, this is the way Google is going to make you use Google+: not because it’s cool, not because you like it and not because your friends use it, but because Google+ is going to be a crucial part of your SEO strategy.

So yes, AuthorRank might push the people working with websites to use Google+ because of its influence in SEO… but most of internet users don’t care about SEO, they just want to keep in touch with their friends. So Google is risking G+ users to be either Internet professionals or just spammers trying to rank better on search results, while the real conversation still happens through other social media platforms.

But the consequences are worst for Google Search. By giving that extra SEO juice to Google+ users the search engine becomes less objective and reliable. Imagine that links coming from pages hosted at Blogger were more important to PageRank than those from WordPress or Tumblr… well, Why should followers on Google+ count more than those on Facebook or Twitter?

Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Adwords and Google Webmaster Tools also help you rank better in Google Search, but at the end of the day we use them because they are great tools on their own. I believe pushing Google+ this much is not going to help neither the social platform or the search engine, but quite the opposite.