How to Get Started on Social Media for Business

how to get started on social media

Introduction

You can get started on social media for business for$50 a month.  Social media, from the millennial perspective, is still a developing industry that lacks real ROI and measurement standards.  Even though it’s still maturing, no one can ignore these marketing tools. Getting a handle on social media is simple – thanks to the wealth of information available over the Internet.

To get started, sign up for HootSuite or Buffer App.  Both services cost about $10 per month and allows you to schedule posts, view analytics, and shorten URLs for both Facebook and Twitter.

Tools

buffer appBuffer App (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Pros:
  • Posting status updates to photos and Facebook is amazingly fast and easy.
  • Detailed analytics with a simple interface shows activities for likes, shares, and retweets on all posts.
  • Syncing this with Tweriod.com gives you the best times to post during the day.  Unlike Hootsuite, it eliminates the need to manually select hours and minutes.
Cons:
  • For now, Buffer doesn’t offer a way to connect your Instagram profile.  I’d love to be able to schedule Instagram photos instead of posting one every day.  I’m sure they will add this functionality later on in the future (meanwhile, the alternative is using IFTTT‘s recipes). The same goes for Pinterest.
Pros:
  • The Publisher – a post scheduler that helps you to schedule posts quickly for Facebook and Twitter.
  • The HootSuite Hootlet Google Chrome extension works wonders for Twitter.  After getting a rough estimate of the best times to post on Twitter with Tweriod.com, I scour my RSS subscriptions for interesting articles that are about the brand, the destination, and travel gadgets.   Hootlet lets me immediately schedule my Twitter feed, making it a painless method of bulk scheduling Tweets for the next few weeks.
  • Analytics.  Hootsuite Analytics presents data from Facebook Insights in a clear and organized manner, giving me a quick snapshot of how the brand page is performing.
  • The “Streams” feature provides neatly organized columns for keyword searches – vital for listening and monitoring conversations on Twitter.
Cons:
  • A higher learning curve than Buffer App.
  • Custom analytics requires additional payment.
  • Stati.gram already offered Instagrammers a way to browse through photos way before Instagram’s started optimizing its web presence.
  • Allows you to search Instagram for photos – a useful feature to see what guests and customers take pictures of at your property
  • Statistics – it keeps a rolling month analysis of your top photos, how many likes and comments you’ve gained, and sends you snapshots of your account’s performance.
instatagInstatag
  • What’s Instagram without the hashtags?  People won’t be able to find your photos if you’re not using them.
  • It’s the best one-dollar app for all your Instagram tagging needs.  Instatag gives you the top Instagram tags IGers use today, along with trending hashtags.  Tags are sorted by topics.  You can select up to 30 hashtags, copy, and paste them into Instagram – an instant time-saver.

Data Collection

Facebook

  • This service pulls data from Facebook Insights and gives you a summary of stats of your page and posts.
  • I spent the first month posting more content than usual to determine the time of day people are most likely to like or comment on a post.  The more you use it, the better the results will be.  For the first month, experiment with posting at different times to see how well your post performs.
  • Depending on how often you posted to Facebook, Edge Rank Checker determines the best times to day to post.  For hotels whose users live outside America, this is invaluable since infographics and research about optimal posting times are based on data for the U.S. audience.  For the international audience, it’s up to you to figure out what times of the day your fan base is most likely to interact with the post.
  • Post grading.  What constitutes a successful Facebook posting?  Edge Rank Checker’s grading system gives you a breakdown for the engagement ratio, virality, reach, impressions, and lifetime of a post.

Twitter

  • If you’re serious about marketing on Twitter, it’s a worthwhile investment to track progress of your followers, the replies, and RTs you accumulated.
  • I wouldn’t subscribe to this if Twitter is not part of your marketing strategy or if you don’t have someone monitoring on a daily basis.  Before taking an interest in Twitter stats, spend the first few months learning Twitter’s basic concepts by monitoring what people say about your property, proactively engaging in conversations if it relates to your brand, and posting useful updates at least 1-3 times a day.

Pinterest

  • Pinterest is still relatively new, and I only use this for educating clients and showcasing what my property’s all about.
  • Pinreach keeps track of repins and followers on Pinterest.  Functionality is still limited.

WebCreating a Dashboard to Track Your Progress

  • Statistics and math were my least favorite subjects in school, so I did the next best thing: scour websites such as hubspot.com and Marketo for templates.  Download a free template and start customizing it for your property.

In Retrospect

With the social media industry growing at a fast rate, large brands are incorporating these platforms into their overall marketing strategy.  As a millennial, I’m still in awe of what social media has evolved into.  In 2007, I was 17 years old and used Facebook for fun.  It was a website that allowed me to connect with my friends.  My sister started using Twitter when she was in a high school sophomore, mainly to win competitions and prizes for movies and games.

In the Present

Fast forward to 2012 and I’m on Facebook and Twitter the entire day, but not to chat with my friends or win movie tickets.  I use social media as a part of an integrated marketing communications plan to promote the resort.  In a nutshell, that’s how to get started on social media for business.

Video Editing On Google’s Cloud

wevideo-editing-window

I wrote about the possibilities of doing video editing in the cloud a few months ago on this post.  Jaycut has folded and started work on projects for the Blackberry platform.  Creaza is still around and offers many tools for people to collaborate on creative projects.

 

Google Drive

Google hosts a terrific array of cloud-computing applications.  It has all the tools needed to create a successful production from start to finish.  Google Drive replaced Google Docs, a web-based office application suite.  It’s great for writing scripts and ideas for pre-production.  Other production members are allowed to access all the documents and edit them at their convenience.

WeVideo epitomizes my dream of video editing the cloud.  It recently merged with Google Drive and has all the features to create a successful video project.  You can shoot your project, upload the files to Google Drive, and edit it on the WeVideo cloud platform.  Google Drive acts as the scratch disk that stores all your media.

Looking on the bright side 

  • Eliminating the need for hard drives.  Hard drives can fail.  People tend to misplace them.  It’s better to have video files in the cloud rather than on a physical object that’s prone to breakage.
  • No need for high-end editing computers.  Video editing demands a computer that can handle HD footage.  Expect to spend a few thousand dollars on a good laptop or desktop computer if you want to edit smoothly.
  • It takes a good team of production experts to deliver professional videos.  Working in the cloud allows for collaboration without the need to actually meet face-to-face.
  • The full-feature video editor looks organized.  WeVideo boasts that rendering times are faster than any desktop computer.
  • WeVideo takes it one step further with animations, transitions, effects, filters, color correction, and royalty-free music.  It can save you hundreds of dollars on third-party software such as Red Giant and other paid plugins for Final Cut and Adobe Premiere.
  • Support for all file formats.  Since the video footage is in the cloud, there is no need for specific file formats.  WeVideo converts it to their own codecs.
  • Sharing on social media outlets.  WeVideo allows you to export your video directly to social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitter.  It can be compressed for the web, or exported to HD 1080p.
  • WeVideo’s mobile feature allows you to add media to your account.
All the features mentioned above sound great, bu can it work perfectly in the real world?  I’ve tested out WeVideo, and I think it’s still a long ways away from being professional-grade software.  WeVideo would be a great product for someone who’s starting out, or for people who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on editing software.

The reality of editing in the cloud

  • It’s slow.  The first thing I did was import media into the video editor.  I’m on a broadband connection, but uploading 27 MB of footage took about ten minutes…  This first hiccup is a reason I won’t switch over to WeVideo just yet.  Importing footage into FCP or Adobe takes less than a minute.  I know I’ll spend a lot of time rendering when the project’s finished, but I don’t want to spend any time importing video before I even start editing.
  • The canvas.  Again, it’s slow.  Viewing the video in the canvas makes me wait a few minutes.  In FCP/Adobe, it’s instantaneous.
  • It lags often.  Dropping and dragging media slows down the computer.
  • WeVideo’s filters and color correction tools are no where near as great as the ones you find in FCP, Adobe, and Red Giant.  You can’t create flying particles or dramatic titles without them.
  • No third party plugin support.  One of the great features about professional editing software is that you can buy more filters, generators, and plugins that allow for more creativity.
  • It’s not intuitive.  It took me a while to get used to the interface, and then I gave up after ten minutes of trying.  The interface is too simple, reminding me of amateur editing software such as iMovie.
  • It’s 100 percent dependent on Internet connection.  If the Internet connection goes down, there goes your project.  You won’t be able to access your project if you can’t get to the Internet.

The dream has yet to be realized…

It’s going to take a few decades for video editing and the cloud to reach its full potential, if that’s even possible.  In a perfect world, I can run Final Cut Pro and Adobe from my browser and still be able to do complicated video editing.  In other words, I want to eliminate the need for high-end desktops and MacBook Pros.  WeVideo will suffice for a novice with little money and resources.  It is possible to crank out a good video using minimal tools, but only if the editor is patient enough.  WeVideo is great for people who are getting started in video editing.

There are both pros and cons to editing in the cloud or off the cloud.  For now, I would stick to expensive software.  Saving thousands of dollars on video editing doesn’t do much for me if I’m on editing on a tight deadline.  In this industry, you really do get what you pay for.

Building a Drupal News Aggregator Website

drupalq

Building www.thailandnewsupdates.com

Drupal.  Every web-savvy journalist should know how to use it.  When working in the news industry in any country, one of the challenges include staying organized and keeping up with the constant influx of information. I’ve updated my Google Reader feed with hundreds of RSS feeds, only to find that I’m overwhelmed by the 1000+ headlines to read in a day.  These headlines are well-organized in the Google Reader interface, but that’s still a little too much to go through individually on a daily basis.

Since I love using web tools to help me in my career, I decided to build a self-updating news aggregator focused on Thailand-related news using Drupal 7.  I was really specific about how I wanted the website to turn out, and I couldn’t find any website that had what I wanted.  I wanted a simple news site where I can track all of Thailand’s news from multiple English-language news websites.  That’s where Drupal comes in handy.

Why Drupal

Before I decided on Drupal, I tried out WordPress and Joomla! since I was more familiar with their content management system’s layout.  Wordpress has no learning curve, anyone can just do it.  Joomla! has a steep learning curve.  After testing out WordPress and Joomla!, I’ve learned that a self-updating news aggregator would be built faster with Drupal.  Wordpress works through “plugins” and a drag-and-drop interface.  It didn’t give me enough freedom.  As for Joomla!, I think it’s overkill for a simple news aggregation website.

Getting Started with Drupal

There were three elements I needed in order to make the site:

  • the news aggregator module
  • the built-in cron module (Drupal 7+)
  • an appropriate theme

The nice thing about Drupal 7 is that it came with modules for cron and news aggregator already installed.  A module is a add-on that increases Drupal’s functionality.  With Drupal, the user would need to install modules to make the website more dynamic.  The news aggregator module allows you to add RSS feeds.  The cron module is a Drupal feature that does scheduled tasks automatically.  Instead of having to update the news feeds myself, I just run cron and it does all the repetitive updating work.

As for the theme, I chose The Morning After theme by Prosepoint.  I found it randomly on the Internet and picked it since it had a simplistic design.

Gathering the RSS Feeds

After I bought the domain, installed Drupal 7 via SimpleScripts, logged in, and familiarized myself with the CMS, I started to collect RSS feeds.  Every major online newspaper in the world should have the RSS feeds in the form of an XML file.  I scoured the web for all of Thai news sources, and made a list of all the feeds.  I focused on Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket since these are the most popular destinations for Thais and tourists alike.

After gathering all the feeds, I went to the backend of Drupal and added them through Configuration>News Aggregator.

When that’s done, run cron, and start organizing each feed through Structure>Blocks.  You can place the feeds anyway you like, as it depends on the theme.

Finish

As far as I’m concerned, the news feed is complete.  I now have a website that pulls all of the latest headlines from Thailand’s top newspapers that updates itself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Further things can be done to develop the website some more, such as SEO.  Doing that will require you to install more modules and configure it until you achieve your goal.  As for installing modules, one thing leads to another.  Each module will require other modules to be installed.  You can spend hours looking up and installing modules.

Phuket Transportation

It’s been almost a year since I moved back to Thailand, and Phuket is treating me quite well.

San Francisco

When I was back in America, I promised myself I will never buy a car but depend entirely on public transportation.  San Francisco’s MUNI system wasn’t perfect.  It could get extremely aggravating when trains break inside the tunnel, drop you off 5 miles before your destination, and having to navigate through crowded buses on rainy days.  If I get really unlucky, a hobo would board the bus and sit next to me.  The politics of SF MUNI is interesting in itself.  Struggles over the rising cost of fares, bus drivers getting really good perks, and the city charter add to the drama of the embattled MUNI system.

Despite all that, I vowed to never buy a car and I didn’t need to get a drivers’ license.  I got used to public transportation and actually enjoy trekking through San Francisco streets, especially at night.

Bangkok, Thailand

The first time I landed in Bangkok, I froze.  In my opinion, the city is a large and disorganized urban sprawl gone wild.  I’m not even sure if Thailand has an urban planning committee…  If they did, they didn’t do a very good job at urban planning.

I lived in the Don Muang district, a part of the city that’s popular with the Royal Thai Air Force.  We started there since my mom’s social circle and friends are based around the Don Muang Airport.  Mom’s a champ at exploring urban cities, so I thought I’d join instead of sleeping in.

It was…  exhausting, to say the least.  I spend SIX hours a day sitting in a vehicle.  Cars, buses, and minivans combined.  In Thailand, you used a combination of those vehicles to get to your destination.  We left Don Muang and went to the Sanam Luang District.  Sanam Luang is where the King of Thailand lives, and where all the fancy palaces for the monarchy are located.  The distance was only 25 kilometers, or 15 miles.  It took us three hours to travel 15 miles.  The traffic jams are a horrible site to behold, and the cars line up like an army of large beetles. 

Phuket, Thailand

The Phuket transportation system is not as bad.  But it’s still pretty inconvenient without a motorbike or car.  Phuket’s a growing city, so the traffic jams aren’t as horrendous as Bangkok.

The most interesting fact I learned here was that there are transportation gangs…  When I think about gangs, I think of Vito Corleone, the Bloods and Crips, or the cholos in Hispanic neighborhoods.  Here in Thailand, black plate taxis and tuk-tuks are dangerous gangs.  Thais or Westerners can’t park their cars in any tourist-populated places without a taxi/tuk-tuk driver harassing them.  Undesirable consequences await those who fight against them.

As for Phuket’s roads…  Cars don’t stop for pedestrians, stop signs are scarce or broken, drivers ignore traffic lights, motorbikers don’t watch where they’re going, and dogs cross busy streets without fear of being hit by cars.  If I can drive in Phuket and not die, I would consider myself to be a very skilled driver.

Thai Road Vehicles Urban Legends

Thailand’s roads and vehicles are riddled with stories.  The most notorious stories revolve around one idea: the crazed ten-wheeler driver.  The driver could be on meth.  Their eyes are awake but their brains are asleep.  When driving to another city at night, there’s always the unlucky few who gets rammed by ten-wheelers.  It happens all the time.

Open Learning Initiative in Thailand

Young people today have access to more education than ever before, thanks to the Internet and the open learning community.  Students at all levels of education can access thousands of videos about any subject you can think of.  When I went to high school in San Francisco, a lot of us (including myself) were struggling through math and science.  If only the Internet back in 2004 was like the Internet in 2011…

One of Thailand’s most pressing cultural concern is teaching English to young Thais.  Many parents are caught up in the idea of spending 800 baht ($25) for a 2-hour session with an English tutor.  $25 is a lot of money to a Thai family if they’re making less than 30,000 baht ($947) per month.

Since I grew up in America, I know that the key to English-language success is total immersion in the language which means speaking, reading, and learning in English every day.

So what’s the solution for a Thai family to do if they can’t send their kids overseas?  The Internet and its repository of free educational videos.  Watching a video about grammar is a lot more engaging than listen to a teacher drone on and on about English language mechanics.

Getting Started:

Time Magazine came out with a list of websites to get started:

1. Khan Academy: This is a wealth-load of online courses of math, science, history, art, computer science, and many other subjects.  If I had this when I went to high school, I wouldn’t have been struggling in higher math and science courses.

2. Open Yale Courses: This requires a great deal of English comprehension, and is generally recommended for people at the college-level.  The best way to learn English is to delve into the subjects, soaking in as much as you can.

3. Starfall: This site teaches reading English to children.  I think it’s great for people of all ages who want to start learning.

Other ideas to build upon:

YouTube Education: There are educational videos for all age groups, whether your’re in primary school or university.  YouTube’s got a lot of videos that will teach you anything you want to learn.

The Logic:

Those websites are just barely scratching the tip of the iceberg.  By searching for similar things through Google and YouTube, the student will find more resources that will educate him further.

Here’s an example.

1. Yale University isn’t the only school offering free courses.  They’re part of the Open Learning Initiative.  The Open Learning Initiative comprises of Ivy-league universities’ online free course offerings.  All major US universities have open learning courses.  Googling “open MIT” and “open harvard” will take you there.  Main keywords to use are “open” and the name of the university you are interested in.

2. English courses.  YouTube or Google “English lessons” or “English tutorial” will get a good number of free lessons in English.  That’s how I’m learning the Thai language.  My Thai reading has improved a little bit, thanks to YouTube’s video tutorials.

Summary:

Since the Internet is such a vast and open learning-friendly community, people in developing countries such as Thailand and other Southeast nations can self-study themselves to success.  Once they’ve gained a firm understanding of the English language, their eyes will be opened to the best kinds of information.  Westerners are the leading force in innovation.  Understanding English is a gateway for every child to advance in developing nations.  A Thai kid who aspires to be a computer scientist wouldn’t have to wait until he enrolls in the top Thai universities to start writing code.  He can spend most of his grade school years learning both English and Thai, and teach himself computer programming.  Thousands of video tutorials are available online, with other programmers teaching complicated programming languages that builds and maintains the Internet’s infrastructure.  I’ll write another post detailing free education for computer science and video in the near future.