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What would you like to read about?

When I was to write this article, I had not a single clue what to write about. After trying to find a topic for half an hour, great idea came to me out of the blue – “use your network to decide.” – approached me as a SMS in my head. I went for Linkedin and asked my network for help, using their answers section. Without any support of promoting my question, 10 responses came back to me the next day.

Then I improved this idea and decided to post all the answers here. I see it as a challenge for professionals to contribute with their thoughts in discussion underneath. Then the article could be updated or separated to several different articles, being put together as a collective piece(s). This is how I would like to explore power of the Perfect crowd – blog that brings together professionals from different parts of the world.

I am also directly involved in answering those topics, right below them. This is the way how to keep you all satisfied… hopefully. Let’s get started:

1. “I would like to read more about social networking and social search and how it's going to influence/develop on the internet.”
Short reply:
In my opinion it is very hard to predict future, at least for me. I am sure that there are several gurus who know the answer. Are they willing to share with us?

2. “I am in the process of building myself a website, I am in sales and it is going to be part of my new self marketing campaign. Sales people would be interested in reading an article that may include some tips, maybe what to do, what not to do and tips to getting traffic to a newly created site.”
Short reply:
Let me start at the end. As soon as you build your new web, there are several ways how to get visitors attracted to it. Just please keep in mind, that if your web has nothing to tell them and is not user friendly, they will end up there just once or maybe twice :)
Shortly, to get your web some traffic, firstly optimise it for search engines while programming it. Few tips could be found on the internet under SEO shortage, also there are specialised professionals/companies to help you with this. One of basic rules is to be honest and not cheat; otherwise your web could easily appear in the internet hell.
Next step, I would recommend, is to get involved in forums discussing questions related to the content of your web. Each of your posting should be finished with the link to your web. In this point also consider relevance of your postings, as they will serve as your marketing tool.
I would also keep the link of your web in your e-mail signature and let your friends, clients or prospect know that it exists and how they could benefit of its visiting. Spread a word.
Finally, I would include RSS to the web, to keep visitors constantly up-to-date, as well as would try hard to keep the web fresh (there could be found dozen-illions of dead webs). Next steps depend on the type of your business and the purpose of the site. In some cases I would recommend to have people signing-in to keep them in close contact with you, to provide them with special benefits.

3. “I would welcome practical advice on how a small business could implement a marketing strategy that incorporates social networks and interactive online marketing. The killer hook would be a framework in which you could calculate a reasonable expectation on ROI.”
Short reply:
Wow, what a request! Thanks for that. My opinion is that this can not be answered in general speaking, as each small business needs to be approached individually. ROI could be really hard to calculate in major of cases. From the top of the head I can highly recommend two things:
a, the book “Buzzmarketing” by Mark Hughes, which could give you few ideas, although it is a bit older.
b, approaching WOM experts, for example Outbreak could also answer your question.
To summarise this topic, in case of small business it is crucial to focus on knowing your target group, ways how to approach them, as well as the benefits that you are able to provide, in the deepest depth. That should lead to finding the best and most effective solution right for your business.

4. “I would like to see an article explaining how to take advantage of the social networking opportunities. What social networks are there on the Internet? What are some of their advantages/disadvantages? How can they be used? What are the pitfalls? Should one take the offers of linking into "LIONS"? Is it best to link just to people you have actually met? These are just some of the questions that I have.”
Short reply:
I will answer this from my personal experience. I use Linkedin and have a wide network; it is not including just people I know in person. It helps me to help others, as well as ask for help – what you give is what you get. This is meant in terms of professional advices, hiring or expanding my knowledge. Moreover, I can recommend people I worked with and find new resources or business opportunities.
You can also find me on other sites, but I do not use them as much as Linkedin. To list sites that could be interesting for you, I should have known more about your expectations. Generally speaking, I am aware of MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Xing, Bebo, Orkut, Windows Live Space, Hi5, LinkedIn, itLinkz, YouTube, Flickr, Second Life, Twitter and Jaiku.
Additionally I can only recommend one and one thing only – if you have a chance to meet within a group of people from the network personally, it is a fantastic opportunity to get closer with them. We do this monthly on Xing and have to say, there I see how real networking completes the internet one.

5. “It would be interesting to read about changing face of content and advertising in the converged world - trends in content & advertising on three different screens - PC / Mobile / TV.”
Short reply:
This was the hardest one for me to respond to. Generally speaking, in this “fast rotating” world I see trends in content to be short, unique, personal, interactive, engaging, entertaining and relevant. This applies to almost every channel. In print I see PR being more successful than full pages ads. Huge potential, but also risk is in involving consumers into building the brands (possibilities are wide). To recommend a site talking a lot about new trends, I would go for Trendwatching.

6. “I know you didn't include public relations in your list, but I'd like to suggest it. I'd like to see an article surveying how much pr consultants charge, how their fees are broken down and what a typical pr proposal looks like. I find that there are tons of books, articles on how to write a press release etc... but when it comes down to the nitty gritty how to info there isn't much out there. Good luck and let us know what you decided to write about!”
Short reply:
In this case I can just hope that a PR pro is reading this and willing to get back to you.

7. “Perhaps a "does and don'ts" of promoting your idea through existing social media platforms?”
Short reply:
In my opinion, life is nicer when experimenting. Of course, there are certain rules in every niche of the world. To answer your request I would need more information, what you meant exactly by “promoting your idea”? Does it mean “using social media platforms for marketing purpose”? Maybe one of above short articles explains it a bit. Maybe someone else will contribute.

8. “I would be interested in new trends/buzz words like "mavens". Came across that term last week and it is taking off in North America. Good luck!!”
Short reply:
Just one recommendation in this case: “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell. It is also shortly explained on Wikipedia.

9. “All those topics are fantastic, and I also love the idea of public relations. An article featuring different social media tools, and how effective they are for certain groups would be a nice read, however, in an easy to read format. There were a slew of these articles a few months ago, but with the advent of new tools (Twitter and all the mini-tools that came afterwards for it, for example), it's time for a new review of what is out there. Hope this helps!”
Short reply:
I am currently working on a presentation, which is to summarise this “new world” and explain three things about every media/technology listed: what it is, how it works, what its usage could bring for the concrete client. I just can say that it will not go for newer things than Twitter, Jaiku and Data matrix, so I am not the right person to fulfil your wish. Is anybody else willing to educate us?

10. "What would be great, rather than just looking at social media, would be a focus on how to effectively use each tool, and also how to actually judge results. It's easy to advocate Facebook, Youtube et al, but what methods are there for proving any of the benefits? Either that, or seeing as there are so many, many tech blogs out there, take a personal look at tools for your role at an interactive marketer/sound producer..."
Short reply:
Let me put it this way, how do you usually prove benefits of having something? You measure your situation before, during and afterwards. Does this work for this “new tools”, as well? When not talking about webs, mailings, banners, Youtube and other measurable “gadgets”, or how we are going to call them, what exact tools and methods of digital marketing you are willing to analyse? Mostly of those coming to my mind I would categorise as hard-to-measure the results of. I have to admit, on the other hand, that I do not consider myself being the most educated person in the world :)
To answer the second part of your topic, rather than using too many words, I would re-direct you to the following presentation (we are heading there).

Finally, instead of writing one article I have written 10 short ones, thanks to you. Now I would be happy to see you, readers of this blog, contributing to the above mentioned topics. Would you? Please do.

Martin Svarc