CONSOLIDATING YOUR APPROACH – Working the Crowd

CONSOLIDATING YOUR APPROACH

I was talking to a client about various different Web 2.0 options and I was going through various tools that she could use to complement her traditional marketing approach with an effective digital marketing strategy, and I was reviewing the different types of networks and tools that she could use to get started on her strategy. I mentioned Facebook and Twitter and ways to use each of these. ‘Do I need to do both?‘ she asked. ‘They seem very different.‘

Facebook appeals to people looking to reconnect with old friends and keep up with the activities of family members or find new friends online. It also appeals to companies who wish to interact with their fans, offering them the chance to discover new products and services and engage in discussion with each other in a forum style environment. Twitter, on the other hand, encourages you to grab ideas in bite-size chunks and use your updates as pointers to other places on the web, or you can just let others know what you’re up to at any given moment without any pointers or links. Dialogue is generally between the Twitter account holder and the person responding and there is less opportunity (and fewer characters) for a forum style discussion to take place.

On the surface, these seem to be completely different styles of applications. Facebook appears to nurture relationships and Twitter appears to broadcast news. But is this the case? Twitter certainly appeals to anyone who seeks the instant update or the news of the moment. Facebook, on the other hand, seems to group like-minded people together along common interests.

Twitter has the ability to move from simple real-time status updates broadcast to all, on to replies, retweets, direct (private) messages and finally on to face to face relationships. It’s easy enough to initiate a conversation with people you follow on Twitter, who may then decide to follow you. This mutual following gives both of you the ability to send each other direct messages. Over time, as your relationship develops, your conversation can then progress to email, Facebook, LinkedIn and ultimately face to face. The ability to add your Twitter feeds to Facebook means that you can connect different platforms together and streamline your updates.

Getting the cluster effect you need in your networks to grow your digital engagement efforts is fairly easy if all of your users have access to the same platform. Unfortunately the sheer variety of networking platforms can cause problems when trying to connect different networks together. Currently it doesn’t matter which browser you happen to use on a day to day basis, you can still access your usual networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. This allows your network to grow and clusters of connections to be formed, regardless of operating system, regardless of browser. You need these clusters to grow your network and you need network effects for your news to spread effectively across these different types of networks.

Syndication

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of potential updates that you have to do for each of the Web 2.0 sites that you contribute to, then there are syndication tools that can help you broadcast across several networking platforms at once:

SAVING TIME THROUGH SYNDICATING

  • The Twitter Notifier is an add-on for Live Writer, an offline blog authoring tool. It can be configured to update Twitter every time you publish a blog post. It also provides a shortened URL so that Twitter followers can click the link to reach your blog.

  • There is a Facebook application for Twitter which can update your Facebook status with each Twitter update you make. This can be found by searching Facebook for ‘Twitter‘ and installing the application.

  • You can update Twitter from Facebook. Search for ‘Twitter updater‘ from within Facebook and install the Facebook application.

  • LinkedIn has the ability to pull Twitter updates to display in your LinkedIn feed and can be configured from within the profiles setting area.

  • http://ping.fm can update multiple networking sites at once from one status update. The application just needs to know the login credentials for each site you wish it to update.


Facebook Connect was introduced by the developers at Facebook and it pioneered the ability for website developers to access Facebook visitors’ social graph information. Social graph information includes information about the users themselves, the users’ friends, their status updates and other personal information stored on Facebook. This information is initially accessed by the application when the user explicitly authorises the application to use personal data.

Applications can access all of your information to display actions and other details on the Facebook news feed.


For example, the Farmville application on Facebook publishes data about the farmer’s progression through Farmville by publishing updates on the user’s main status feed. Incentives, such as the offer of a free gift or bonus, can be used to entice friends of the farmer to also play Farmville. Incentives like this appearing on your profile page can encourage your friends to join in the game and lead to the acquisition of a greater number of players in the game for the application. Facebook Connect can be used in other ways too. Profile information, photos and other data such as birthday information can be used to deliver a more personalised experience to the user’s status feed. Other applications can use the presence information provided by Facebook to take advantage of instant interaction and engagement between Facebook users.

Twitter has an authentication mechanism, Oauth, which allows single login across applications. You can create synergy with your updates across different types of applications and you can get interaction from people across networking platforms.

Applications communicate with Twitter using a secure application channel to validate credentials.


Your login credentials are cached if you allow the application access so you don’t need to maintain separate login details for both applications. This approach can be valuable to the community who can keep interacting with the tool of their choice whilst maintaining the connection across different applications.