The Green Revolution

As anyone with more than a few followers on Twitter will tell you, green is the color of the moment. More and more people are coloring their Twitter photos with a green tint in solidarity with the supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi.iran

The movement is being branded on-the-fly with the use of green in all kinds of protests, from soccer players wearing green arm bands to the striking images of hundreds of yards of green cloth snaking through the protesting crowds in Tehran. All of these protests reflect the color of Mr. Mousavi’s political party and these “green” images are being delivered to the world in real-time through tweets, blogs and texts (as well as through traditional media), enabling sympathizers across the globe to stage protests of their own in their home countries. Similarly, these protests incorporate the green brand, along with laser-printed “where is my vote?” signs, so that short of the racial differences, these protests look like they could have been born back in Iran.iran2

But why green, and where did it come from and why has it become such a powerful tool in branding this protest movement? A little research shows that the color green has been associated with Islam for centuries. In fact the decoration of mosques, the bindings of Qur’ans, the covers for the graves of Sufi saints and the flags of various Muslim countries all feature the color green. The Qur’an says that the inhabitants of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk and even during the Crusades, Christians would never use green on their armor so as not to be mistaken for Muslims in battle.

Color theorists suggest that green represents life, renewal, abundance in nature and the environment. Green is also considered a restful color with a calming affect that comes from feelings of balance, harmony, and stability. Of course green has recently come to the forefront of the world’s pallet because of it’s association with the environmental movement and it has in fact become a noun as we all “go green”.

So, there’s some background as to what has likely spawned the adoption of green as the color of protest from Mousavi’s supporters. But what does green mean to you?

Republicans Taking to Twitter to Take Back the House?

In the early 1990s, Republican politicians dominated talk radio. Persuasive speakers used the medium to advance their political agendas (through their own shows, interviews, and ads) and uproot scores of Democratic congressmen, governors, and state lelegislatorsRepublican-vs-Democrat in the 1994 election.

Today, we have an interesting parallel. Republicans are now proactively using Twitter to build up support among the Nation’s younger generation (18 to 24 year olds –-who are typically skeptical of the virtues of limited government, more supportive of gay marriage, and overwhelmingly identify themselves as democrats). On an April 23, 2009 episode of The View, John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain said that “81% of people under the age of 30 consider themselves democrats.”

In fact, a February 17, 2009 Washington Times article reports that Republican politicians have surpassed Democratic politicians on Twitter. Right now, 93 Republicans in Congress use Twitter, compared to 52 Democrats (according to http://tweetcongress.org). With 806,691 followers, Republican Senator John McCain is the most followed congressman on Twitter. Senator Claire McCaskill, the most followed Democrat, lags behind with 26,765 followers.

So… conservatives are ALL OVER the micro-blogging site?! Say what?! Wasn’t President Barack Obama the one who received loads of press for being a social media guru? Well, although he still boasts 1,463,854 Twitter followers, since assuming the presidency, his tweets have become few and far between, and Republican Congressmen have seized the opportunity to use this technology (and others) to vocalize their concerns over his current policies.

Is there are a reason that they are currently dominating this medium? It may be because they are tweeting to bypass mainstream media and communicate what they’re doing, their ideas, concerns, and agendas directly to the public. They’re also using the forum to solicit ideas for legislation. And, they’re getting a handle on how to use other tools besides just Twitter. A quick glance at their feeds and you will recognize that they are tweeting links to their blogs and to YouTube clips that support their political objectives, and using all channels to respond to the President’s comments in real time. It still might be too early to tell, but it seems like they understand that they have a chance to transform their tired image and leverage these viral tools to reach the millions of younger, voting-age citizens who they have had difficulty connecting with in the past.

So while republicans are still looking at how Obama used Internet technologies to aid his bid for office, they are certainly trying to improve upon his strategies for future runs. What do you think? Is Twitter the new talk radio for Republicans? Do you think the Republican Party will shine online when the next election rolls around?

Selling the C-Suite on Social Media

One of the popular questions I get asked is “How do I build support for a social media campaign at the C-level?” To get decision makers like your CEO and CFO behind a social media campaign, you must have a well defined objective. Ask yourself, “Whabosst do I want to get out of my campaign?” Do you want to enhance customer service, corporate reputation, brand personality? Or, do you want to generate new leads for your business?

Your social media strategy will vary depending upon your objective. But once you have a concrete objective and strategy, you will need to be able to articulate to the higher-ups how your company will be able to demonstrate the campaign’s effectiveness.

The question about how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media participation comes up in every workshop I deliver. The fact is, you can measure ROI in a number of ways:

Participation: The extent to which users engage with your content. For example, blog comments, Facebook wall posts, or YouTube ratings.

Traffic: The number of unique visitors versus repeat visitors to your Web site.

Influence: The number of users who subscribe to your content. For blogs: RSS feed or email subscribers; Twitter followers; or fans of your Facebook page.

Authority: The quality of inbound links to your content

Unfortunately, regardless of your social media campaign’s objectives, your C-level bosses will still probably scratch their heads at these measurements because they will not be able to connect the spend with quantifiable results. The fact is, we can’t attach a dollar value to a conversation, visit, link, comment, or a friend request like we can do with advertising and ad equivalency ratings.

So, you have to convince the C-suite to look at it another way. One way I like to think of ROI is the Risk of Ignoring. Conversations about your company’s products or services are going to take place online whether you are aware of them or not. Many consumers increasingly expect that their online ruminations will be monitored and responded to in real-time. By joining social networking sites, you can listen to your clients, engage them in conversation, address their questions and concerns, and empower them to be ambassadors of your brand. Otherwise, you risk ignoring your clients and prospects and risk losing them to competitors.

But, as a social media marketing advocate AND as a small business owner who understands the importance of watching the bottom line, the way I like to measure the ROI for social media participation is by the number of quality new business leads generated. At 451 Marketing, we generate business leads for our clients by monitoring the Web for mentions that relate to their offerings, engaging current and prospective clients in conversation, and providing them with helpful information (i.e. white-papers, podcasts, webinars, wikis) that we develop to address their needs. When an individual expresses a need for one of our client’s products or services or downloads content, we turn their contact information over to our client as a qualified business lead. If our client’s sales team converts that lead into a win, that’s a measurable dollar figure that they can take to the bank.

Facebook Vanity URLs

Since its inception, Facebook has linked to user profiles through randomly assigned numbers in the URL (e.g., “http://facebook.com…id=592952074/”). While effective, the method has not allowed users to easily share links to their profiles with others. When copying and pasting a link was the main option, users often found themselves sifting through Facebook search results in order to find the right profile.

Finally, this Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01 A.M., this will all change. Facebook users will have the opportunity to choose usernames in order to create unique vanity URLs, making profile sharing easier than ever.

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One minute after midnight, the site will invite its 200 million users to either choose from a list of suggestions (all of which are a combination of a first and last name), or to create an original name. Social media addicts and those with common names will need to be diligent as usernames will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once facebook.com/jsmith has been claimed, all other J. Smiths hoping for that URL will be out of luck.

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Users will also need to think carefully and strategically about their vanity URL choice, because once applied, they will not be able to alter their selections. In other words, think twice before rushing to grab “xXRockerJamesXx” first.

Facebook not only blogs about the new vanity URLs, but also provides users with a link to a live countdown.