Last week, University of Wisconsin—Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Association launched a social media challenge aimed to not only increase the visibility of the organizations’ public profile, but also to raise money for UW’s needs-based scholarship fund, Great People Scholarship.

For every new Facebook “like” and Twitter follower the two organizations receive, the university will receive $1 toward Great People Scholarship. The effort is being undertaken by Wisconsin alumnus Will Hsu, his wife Jenny, and his parents, Paul and Sharon. The Hsu family will donate $1 to the Great People Scholarship for every follower or like, up to $50,000. The campaign ends Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.

“We’re trying to make sure people stay connected,” says Will Hsu, who majored in finance, Chinese languages and literature, and East Asian Studies and graduated from UW-Madison in 2000. He is a senior finance manager at General Mills in Minneapolis and a frequent blogger who makes good use of Twitter.

“The growth of social media has really changed the world,” he says. “In the last few years, Jenny and I have watched Facebook and Twitter and some of these other types of social media take off. I think it’s a powerful way for younger alums and current students to get connected and stay connected with the university.”

Social media campaigns like this one have the potential to be extremely successful. They require almost no financial investment and can spread like crazy through social media outlets. However, UW does have a definite advantage over your typical business. Its already high profile gives it a larger platform in which to spread the word. Media outlets are much more likely to pick up on a story like this from a major university, rather than from a small car dealership, or the like.

That said, I’d say the relatively simple Bucky Challenge has already been successful. As I write, it has already raised $12,682 and counting.

UW—Madison:; @uwmadison

WAA:; @buckybadger

September 23, 2011 · Posted by in marketing, social media  

One minor problem many small businesses encounter in terms of social media is that they simply don’t understand it. They don’t really recognize the why or how behind the rapidly developing medium. But one smart campaign is helping small businesses better develop their social media presence (and, of course, is attracting publicity for the two giants). Facebook and American Express’s small business division recently teamed up for a contest that will give five small businesses a Facebook makeover (and $20,000 to grow their businesses).

More than 11,000 small businesses entered the contest, from which 10 finalists have been selected. You can watch profiles of each business on American Express’s YouTube page. Users can cast votes for their favorites from now until July 20 on Facebook. The winners will then head to Facebook’s headquarter’s where they’ll get advice from the company on how to best tailor their Page, Ads and social plugins.

What a smart way for Facebook and AMEX to reinforce their brands and garner media attention, while helping a few small businesses along the way.

July 8, 2011 · Posted by in marketing, social media  

A Week of Google+

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I’ve been using Google+ for a week now, and in case you haven’t heard about it (as it’s still invite-only, and they are limiting invites) Google+ is a pretty much a competitor to Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter. Yup, there’s a new entry in the Social Networking World.
So how is it so far? I’m really liking it. Part of this may be because it’s not Facebook. Facebook has a lot of annoying features, and (here’s the honesty!) a lot of annoying people. I can say that because I may be one of them. ;) Facebook does have lists that you can put people into, and you can then view just the posts from people in those lists, but over the past few Facebook “upgrades” they’ve made lists harder to find, and harder to manage. In contrast, Google+ has “circles” which you can put people into. In fact, the circles are a primary feature of Google+, and you pretty much need to use them, unlike Facebook’s lists, which most people probably don’t even know exist.

The circles allow you to segment people into friends, family, acquaintances, work, etc. You can name them whatever you want, and people can’t see what circle you’ve placed them in. You can then share things just to specific circles. So if you’ve got a very small group of friends in one circle, you can post things that only they can see. (Of course, anything you post on the web can be republished elsewhere, without your permission, but that’s a social problem, not a technical problem.) People may put you in circles for one reason or another, but it’s more like “following” that “friending’ so you don’t need to approve a friendship or follow them back if you don’t want to. (And yes, you can block people too!)

One of the running jokes on Google+ is that all anyone talks about is Google+. I think that was true at first, but I’m seeing more and more people use it like they would Facebook, or any other “sharing” platform, though right now it does seem very tech-heavy, and I’m seeing more web-related things than cat-related things. I’m sure as they open up that will change a bit.
If you visit someone’s profile on Google+ it’s sort of like your wall on Facebook, except it’s the stuff you’ve posted, and not what other people have posted on your wall, so you won’t see goofy posts from your friends who installed some quiz application which them spammed your wall. That’s nice.

So far there are no applications in Google+, so for your FarmVille addicts, you’re out of luck… no games! There’s also not really any brands yet. Well, there are, but they are sort of cheating the system to do it. I’ve read that Google will be rolling out business profiles/pages, but haven’t yet. (It’s only been a week!) There are also no events, so if you want to create an event and invite people in your circles, you can’t really do that yet either.

Other features to note are “hangouts” which allow you to videochat with up to 10 people. From what I’ve been told, this is pretty much the first time this has been available without having to use expensive software. It’s all free, in your browser (with the help of a plugin.)

The desktop versus mobile experience differs a bit right now as far as everything you can see and do. If you’ve got an Android device I’ve heard a lot of good things about the client, and there’s a iOS app awaiting approval from Apple.

If you’re already on Google+ you can find my profile here.

July 7, 2011 · Posted by in social media, web  

Do you think your tweets just alert your friends about what you’re thinking, but don’t do anything more? New social media statistics are stating otherwise and are proving that LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and other outlets are profitable for business. Here are a few facts that amazed me.
LinkedIn surpasses 100 million users

Best Buy has 2,500 employees helping people on Twitter

2011 Social Media Marketing Report – 58% of marketers surveyed are using social media for 6 hours or more every week

Facebook now tops Google for weekly traffic in the US

The second largest search engine in the world is YouTube

There are more 70 translations available on Facebook

After 23 years, Pepsi dropped TV advertising for last year’s Superbowl to spend $20 million on a social media campaign

It seems like the sharing of ideas is also helping companies increase their share of the profits. Businesses are reaching customers in a new and intimate way – and it’s proving to pay off.

June 22, 2011 · Posted by in misc, social media  

When you think about Facebook, you think about your college friend’s status update about his new car or the Girl’s Night event or your old co-worker’s new baby photos. And if I’m doing my job correctly, you’re thinking about a brand because you really love their products… or they’re running a contest that you’re dying to win.

It’s just a guess, but one of the last things you’re thinking about is creating a constitution. On Facebook? You’ve got that right. That’s exactly what they’re doing in Iceland, and I have to admit, it’s a pretty genius way to make decisions for very large groups. Okay, maybe Facebook isn’t the most appropriate place, but the recommendations are flowing on in.

The 25-member council who is drafting the new constitution is actively crowdsourcing information for the updated document – from livestock treatment to natural resources. And Facebook isn’t the only social application being used to gather information. The council is also seeking out recommendations on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

A site dedicated to the creation of the new constitution says, “In this way the Constitutional Council [emphasizes] an open communication with the Icelandic nation and has given the people an opportunity to participate in the formation of a new Constitution of the Republic of Iceland. The Council’s work can also be seen on the major communicative media such as Facebook, Youtube and Flickr. Every day short interviews with delegates are put on Youtube and Facebook.”

As reported on SmartPlanet, Thorvaldur Gylfason, a member of the Constitutional council, said, “The public sees the constitution come into being before their eyes. This is very different from old times where constitution makers sometimes found it better to find themselves a remote spot out of sight, out of touch.

This brings a whole new meaning to the idea of “by the people, for the people.”

June 14, 2011 · Posted by in misc, social media  

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