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Guest moderator and BIA/Kelsey friend Andrew Shotland led a panel at DMS today on social media, and how online publishers in various traditional media are adopting it.

To illustrate the popularity and gravitational pull of social media, he showed a graph of Facebook’s popularity as a search query on Google. To further draw out this ramp, it was compared with a pervasive search term that was flat and low by comparison: the word “sex.”

Factors for social media maturity and savvy, according to Shotland, include understanding and attention to customer social graphs, advocacy programs, reputation management and analytics. No company — big or small — came to mind that scored perfectly on all of these.

This was further graphed against the ratio of companies’ Twitter followers vs. who they follow. More salient was the volume of Facebook fans. On that measure, Groupon and LivingSocial held the top spots, followed by Foursquare and Yelp.

The most common Facebook uses for those scoring high included customer interaction, coupons, specials and sweepstakes, promotion of a smartphone app, surveys, company news, photos and blog posts, and industry news.


Keep It Simple

The panel focused mostly on how to not only engage users but also to get fickle advertisers and small businesses to show up and use social media. Michael Francesconi, CityGrid director of content and community, espoused the virtues of simplicity and a one-stop shop for brand affinity and “presence management” (see video).

Closing remarks focused on “one bit of advice” for the publishers in the audience. Francesconi urges curious companies to dip a toe in the water with the many lightweight tools available to pull social interaction into your existing site or profile. First among them is the Facebook Like button.

“It’s a good simple solution,” he said. “Social media is becoming more integrated. Don’t focus on many hubs; bring these tools back to your site and start with lightweight solutions that are available.”

Paul Dawalibi, Praized Media president and CEO, took the opposite approach saying: “Dive in head first. If you tiptoe around, those efforts are doomed to fail.”

Zeev Gruber, VP of marketing for Golden Pages Group, ended things on a practical note: “Be patient with finance. Don’t focus too much on short-term ROI. Social media takes time and money.”

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