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Facebook, the social networking tool is the latest continent

Louis Otieno, the general manager for Microsoft in Eastern and Southern Africa struck a very interesting chord in the first Chief Information Officers (CIOs) Breakfast meeting last week.
While making his presentation on “the technology trends to watch in 2010” he said Facebook, the social networking tool is the latest continent, albeit virtual.

Why does he say that?
He said Facebook has over 400 million users, 70 per cent of these are outside the US.
This number is larger than the US population standing at about 309 million. Interestingly this new continent has a very high population growth rate that sees nearly 20 million people becoming fans of pages each month.


Mr Otieno’s message to the CIOs was that they needed to leverage on the customers that this new continent brings; they need to develop systems that can harness the potential of the inhabitants of this new continent who play with a different set of rules. I thought this was a really interesting and thought provoking angle on the whole social networking arena. There are a lot of people on Facebook and other social networking sites in Kenya today.
Numbers are hard to come by but I get multiple invites of friends in Facebook, Twitter, and Linked every single day.


Not many of the local social networking users have built business ideas around them, but I can see efforts to do so especially from the marketing and media companies. At least all the big advertising companies in Nairobi have a social networking arm. Business owners around the world are beginning to see this new marketplace.
They are pulling in new clients, servicing current clients, and making money through the use of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.


This attention to new technology greatly increases the image of the brand, provides faster and more effective service, and allows for a high-level of targeted marketing. Businesses are using Facebook to pull their fan base, customers, and potential customers together. Facebook provides tools that allow users to play videos and allow businesses to send marketing messages directly to targeted audiences.


One of the greatest benefits of utilising Facebook for business is its viral effect.
If any person becomes a “fan” of your page, a message is sent to all of that person’s friends telling them about it, providing a great channel to get your message out to many people over a short period of time.

Additionally, Facebook has added an analytics tool called Insight so that a business and even an individual can better understand the demographic of fans.


If your business currently does not have a Facebook fan page, now is the time to jump on the opportunity for maximum early exposure. And your CIO should be able to build a business case for this. If your business is not actively pursuing a social networking strategy, you are likely missing out on a huge opportunity to find the clients you want and to service the clients you already have.
Even if you do not have a target-sized marketing budget, there are many tactics you can use to help you increase business.


The new continent might turn out to be the only continent left on earth. Give it a shot.


Hare is a Director at African eDevelopment Resource Centre. Follow him on Twitter@hareharry


Categories : Social Media News
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by David Armano

In 2009  we saw exponential growth of social media. According to Nielsen Online, Twitter alone grew 1,382% year-over-year in February, registering a total of just more than 7 million unique visitors in the US for the month. Meanwhile, Facebook continued to outpace MySpace. So what could social media look like in 2010? In 2010, social media will get even more popular, more mobile, and more exclusive — at least, that’s my guess. What are the near-term trends we could see as soon as next year? In no particular order:

1. Social media begins to look less social
With groups, lists and niche networks becoming more popular, networks could begin to feel more "exclusive." Not everyone can fit on someone’s newly created Twitter list and as networks begin to fill with noise, it’s likely that user behavior such as "hiding" the hyperactive updaters that appear in your Facebook news feed may become more common. Perhaps it’s not actually less social, but it might seem that way as we all come to terms with getting value out of our networks — while filtering out the clutter.

2. Corporations look to scale
There are relatively few big companies that have scaled social initiatives beyond one-off marketing or communications initiatives. Best Buy’s Twelpforce leverages hundreds of employees who provide customer support on Twitter. The employees are managed through a custom built system that keeps track of who participates. This is a sign of things to come over the next year as more companies look to uncover cost savings or serve customers more effectively through leveraging social technology.

3. Social business becomes serious play
Relatively new networks such as Foursquare are touted for the focus on making networked activity local and mobile. However, it also has a game-like quality to it which brings out the competitor in the user. Participants are incentivized and rewarded through higher participation levels. And push technology is there to remind you that your friends are one step away from stealing your coveted "mayorship." As businesses look to incentivize activity within their internal or external networks, they may include carrots that encourage a bit of friendly competition.

4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced)
If the company you work for doesn’t already have a social media policy in place with specific rules of engagement across multiple networks, it just might in the next year. From how to conduct yourself as an employee to what’s considered competition, it’s likely that you’ll see something formalized about how the company views social media and your participation in it.

5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline
With approximately 70 percent of organizations banning social networks and, simultaneously, sales of smartphones on the rise, it’s likely that employees will seek to feed their social media addictions on their mobile devices. What used to be cigarette breaks could turn into "social media breaks" as long as there is a clear signal and IT isn’t looking. As a result, we may see more and/or better mobile versions of our favorite social drug of choice.

6. Sharing no longer means e-mail
The New York Times iPhone application recently added sharing functionality which allows a user to easily broadcast an article across networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Many websites already support this functionality, but it’s likely that we will see an increase in user behavior as it becomes more mainstream for people to share with networks what they used to do with e-mail lists. And content providers will be all too happy to help them distribute any way they choose.

These are a few emerging trends that come to my mind — I’m interested to hear what you think as well, so please weigh in with your own thoughts. Where do you see social media going next?

Categories : Social Media News
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If you want to be more effective with driving traffic to your website or blog with social media, here are five steps that are sure to improve your results.

1. Targeting the Right Sites

There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of social media sites that you could be using. Obviously no one has the time to use them all effectively, and some of them aren’t worth your time anyway.

One of the first things you will need to do is find a few sites that will work well for you. Of course the larger sites like

Digg, StumbleUpon, FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube

are popular choices because of the large traffic volumes that they send. But if you are looking for sites that can send high quality traffic, first look for niche-specific social media sites.

Also targeting a general news website like Digg or Reddit can be helpful because once you have developed a strong profile you can promote all types of content, not just stuff that fits into one specific niche.

2. Consistent Use

If you hope to ever become a true authority on social media, you’ll have to implement consistent use. As you use the sites that you have targeted every day you’ll become familiar with what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll get to know some of the other consistent users.

3. Development of Content that Appeals to the Audience

Driving traffic to your website through social media will require content development that meets the expectations of social media users. Creating blog content that targets social media users doesn’t mean that you have to alienate your subscribers, contrary to the opinion of some people. What it does mean is that you will have to dedicate the time and effort to find a topic that is of particular interest to your readers and present it in a way that also appeals to social media users. For example, social media users like lists, breaking news, photos, controversy, and informative topics.

4. Networking and Helping Others

Content creation and networking are the two most important aspects of social media marketing. Great content without a network will have a harder time becoming popular and a strong network is an asset, but its value will not be realized without great content.

Networking on social media sites involves voting for the submissions of others, leaving comments, adding friends, and generally getting to know other users. With a strong network your submissions and votes will get more attention and you’ll have some friends to call on when you need help getting those extra votes needed to get over the hump.

5. Conversion

In most cases just getting traffic to a website will not be your ultimate goal. Social media traffic is pretty much useless if you are not able to convert some of it into what you want. Maybe you want to convert the traffic into links, or maybe subscribers. The conversion rate of social media traffic will usually be lower than the rates of other types of traffic, but the huge volumes sent by social media can offset a lower conversion rate and make it very valuable traffic.

While these steps will all help you to reach your goals of promoting your site with social media, they all require one very important step – taking action. So go get started today and build some momentum with social media.

Categories : How To
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Some of you might ask: is creating a custom Twitter background worth the effort? While this is a valid question, and the final answer is up to you, there are a range of benefits to making your backdrop your own. Both the creative and the brand-conscious can (and have) benefited from unique background designs.

Here are a couple reasons for why you might want to build your own:

1. Personalization and expression: It’s a chance to express yourself and who you are. Are you an artist, a musician, a blogger, or a cook? Do you love Macs or the beach? A new backdrop can really help people understand who you are.

2. Contact info: It’s an easy way to add additional information you can plug into your 160 character bio.

3. Personal branding: Having your contact information, your face, or additional bio information within your background is a common practice. It helps potential followers understand what you do and why you are someone people should follow.

4. Artistic creativity: Twitter is a great opportunity to push the limits of your talents.


Some great examples of custom Twitter background designs


If you’re looking for some inspiration for your Twitter background, look no further. These are some of the most unique, most inspiring, and best-branded Twitter backgrounds around. There’s not enough time or room to showcase the thousands of great backgrounds that exist on Twitter, so be sure to check out some comprehensive lists and discover some on your own.

And remember: you don’t have to spend an obscene amount of time to make a great background. It’s all about making a background that’s perfect for you, not for anyone else.

Doug Cone (@nullvariable): Doug, a web designer and consultant, brilliantly integrates his face with his brand and contact information in this spacey theme.
CoolTweets (@cooltweets): CoolTweets, which collects, well, the coolest tweets on the web, gets an A for its simple and clean layout. Perfect for many brands.
CoolTweets Twitter BackgroundJustine Ezeraik (@ijustine): The popular new media star has a balanced theme that perfectly reflects her brand.
iJustine Background ImageKristi Colvin (@kriscolvin): Kristi, a favorite tweeter of mine, opted to create a beautiful mosaic of color and life. I could stare at it all day.
Kris Colvin Twitter BackgroundLoic Le Meur (@loic): No, it’s not that Loic’s background is the most amazing, most complex, or most visually appealing image in the world. It’s that his background reflects who he is – a smiling, personal, fun-loving guy…who also happened to found Seesmic. You just have to love the picture of him kitesurfing, too.
Loic Twitter Background

There are literally hundreds of great Twitter backgrounds. Part of the fun is discovering on your own.


Creating your own background: the basic requirements


Mashable Twitter Background

Now that you understand the reasons for creating a background and you’re feeling inspired, there are a couple of things you need to know about custom Twitter backgrounds.

First, you need to know how to actually change your background. This is a simple process: just go to settings, then design, and then click “change background image.” You can now browse your computer and add any image you’d like, so long as it’s under 800k in size.

Next, the actual dimensions. This is important because improperly-sized images can be covered up by your Twitter profile or can start to tile, which often leads to an undesired effect. In most circumstances, you want your background to be large enough not to tile. To achieve this, the total image size should be around 1600px wide by 1200px tall. This encompasses almost all screen resolutions.

If you build a left-hand column, popular on many Twitter backgrounds, make sure that it’s small enough not to be covered up by the central Twitter content – many designers suggest smaller than 200px or 235px. For more information on dimensions, check out Croncast and their numbers.

In the end, building your ideal background often requires trial-and-error.

Categories : Twitter News
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numbers1 With all the skepticism of whether it’s just a social media fad and questions about how the company expects to generate revenue, Twitter has left many critics silent by continuing to grow. Though the company has made some improvements, including its recent redesigned homepage, many wouldn’t credit these changes with the successful growth of Twitter.

It’s all about the people and how the service has been put to use by the millions. Whether using it during their everyday lives, marketing a business or reporting on tragic events, users have shown the value of Twitter and will continue to contribute to its growth. Below are just five reasons why Twitter will continue to grow. Please add your thoughts below in the comments, as well as other reasons you believe Twitter will continue to grow.


1. Consistent growth


The microblogging site reached 23 million unique users in June, according to Compete, which was a 16 percent growth compared to May. This doesn’t even include the millions that do not visit Twitter.com and instead use third-party services to update. The site has had a consistent growth, and we expect it will continue to do so for July numbers.

Twitter Compete Growth image


2. Gaining approval from big companies


According to PR firm Burson-Marsteller, as reported by Mashable’s own Adam Ostrow, Twitter is the social media platform of choice at Fortune 100 companies. The firm reported that 54 percent of the companies have a Twitter presence and for the companies that use only one social media platform, 76 percent of them use Twitter as their preferred choice. And if the big guys are using it, well, the smaller companies will do so as well. Oh wait, small businesses are already using Twitter. So basically they have the ground covered big and small. Either way, the complete results of the study are below:


3. Twitter is the number one most social brand


Twitter is the most active Web presence and generates most conversational volume on the Web, making it the number one social brand for July 2009, according to Social Radar. It was at number one in June too. Social Radar analyzes the Web to see what brands are mentioned most by unique sources. This includes blogs, other social networks, forums, etc. The analysis includes brands, not just social networks. Facebook is at number 4, with the iPhone and Google at number 3 and 4, respectively. Check out the full list for July here. The point is there is a lot of buzz out there about Twitter and people are continuing to talk about it, and it’s even becoming part of everyday language.

Social Radar image


4. Twitter receives millions in free media coverage


The media loves to cover Twitter and anything that relates to using the service. In fact, Twitter received $48 million worth in media coverage in 30 days, according to Ad Age, which also notes that the figure is about half of what Microsoft plans to spend on marketing Bing. So what amounts to $48 million worth in advertising? How about 3 billion impressions and 57 percent of that is from TV. These figures don’t even include the smaller newspapers that likely mentioned Twitter. The irony is that this very post is contributing.


5. Continued growth internationally


As news breaks, more users internationally are learning the value of using Twitter. Whether it is the protests following the Iran Election or the Jakarta bombings or the fact that the Chinese government felt they had to block Twitter during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the site gets more users in those countries as the value of the service unravels during a time of need. Right now, about 55 percent of the audience is international, according to comScore. This number too will continue to grow.

Jakarta bombing twitter image


By: Vadim Lavrusik

Vadim Lavrusik is a new media student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is @lavrusik on Twitter and blogs at Lavrusik.com.

Categories : Twitter News
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