Today’s post is by Stanna Johnson.
Setting up a social network sounds easy on its face. All you have to do is create accounts, keep them active, and appeal to the masses. Right? Well, that’s actually wrong. Quite wrong.
So this presents a question: How do you become successful using social media to brand yourself or your business?
There is a lot to be learned on this journey. From figuring out how to get the right followers on Facebook to understanding the intricacies of proper Twitter postings and LinkedIn profiles, social media can kick your butt if you’re not on top of things.
There are plenty of cheat sheets out there, but there’s another great way to learn: you can look at some profiles of the top social media companies and people in the industry right now and glean a lot about how to become successful. Here are my 10 favorite profiles and what I’ve learned from them.
The Top Social Media Profiles and what They’ve Taught Me
Profile #1 – Seth Godin
Name: Seth Godin
Seth Godin (sethgodin.com, sethgodin.typepad.com) is a renowned author and entrepreneur. He’s important to online marketers for a host of reasons, not the least of which are his successful marketing books (11 in total) and his launch of the popular website Squidoo in 2006. These days, Godin seems to be a lone wolf, and he’s still teaching people a lot about social media marketing.
- 171k Facebook likes
- 222k Twitter followers
- 137k Blog followers
Area of Expertise: Godin specializes in internet marketing. With a strong focus on brand-building and succeeding in one’s targeted market, Seth’s approach to marketing is very straightforward and, judging from his success, very valid.
Reasons for Popularity: Seth Godin shatters the conventional mold. He doesn’t come across as one of those shady, shades-wearing “gurus” who sit in a chair and preach to you. He is incredibly coherent when he speaks, breaking complicated marketing principles down into layman’s terms so that anyone can understand them. He’s also very active online and is quick to give people advice about the latest marketing trends.
What I’ve Learned: Following Godin’s materials and viewing his many social profiles and websites, I’ve learned that you don’t have to come across as the Wizard behind the curtain to be a successful authority on your topic. You can let your hair down (sorry, Seth!) and actually show people an incredibly personal side. In fact, that seems to work better than the behind-the-curtain approach.
Profile #2 – Mashable
Founded in 2005, Mashable is one of the biggest and best resources for social media news in the world today. Its founder and CEO, Pete Cashmore, has created a huge company in a niche with an endless amount of competition. Now with over 80 employees, Mashable is a legitimate company with a ton of followers, a solid reputation, and a slogan that says it all: “The Social Media Guide.”
- 1 million+ Facebook likes
- 3 million Twitter followers
- 1.9 million unique page views daily on website
Area of Expertise: Mashable delivers the news, pure and simple. If there’s something you want to know about a new app on the market or a new trend on Facebook or Twitter, Mashable is the site you’d check out. They’re the go-to source for all things newsworthy in social media.
Reasons for Popularity: Part of the reason for Mashable’s enormous popularity is that they’re constantly updating their site and social pages with the latest news. They’re the authority in this respect. It’s everyone else who plays catch-up. Another part of their social media popularity is that they’re able to make news entertaining without offering entertainment for news.
What I’ve Learned: What I’ve personally learned from Mashable is that you have to be on top of your game if you want to create an ongoing buzz. It’s simply not enough to post every once in a while; and if you want to be seen as an authority in your respective niche, you have to fight to release the information before your competition does.
Profile #3 – Lisa Barone
Name: Lisa Barone
Lisa Barone, VP of Strategy at Overit and co-founder of Outspoken Media, is no stranger to social media. Known for saving a lot of brands from ruin with her unique and cutting-edge tactics, Barone is a bank of social media knowledge and has worked in some really lofty places throughout her career.
- 840 Facebook likes
- 27k Twitter followers
- 3,600 Google+ followers
Area of Expertise: Barone covers a wide range of social marketing issues: everything from blogging and affiliate marketing to SEO and reputation management.
Reasons for Popularity: Lisa presents kind of the “everygirl” persona, but she consistently amazes people with the knowledge she has about Internet marketing. She’s also a Tweet-a-holic, giving people more than a little insight as to how she spends her time. Coupled with her knowledge, her willingness to be personal has earned her a solid reputation.
What I’ve Learned: Lisa Barone’s many different social profiles have taught me that drive accounts for a lot of the success you’ll experience in social media. Even with a good-paying job in a high position, Lisa has still created a very popular and respected blog, and she still consistently posts updates and gives great news. That’s bordering on obsession, but that’s a good thing.
Profile #4 – TechCrunch
Founded in 2005 by Keith Teare and Michael Arrington, TechCrunch is one of the industry’s top web publications, giving technology analysis and news. They also offer a lot of reviews of startup companies, and they’re prized for their impartial take on all things social media.
- 521k Facebook likes
- 2.4 million Twitters followers
- 4m+ unique monthly visitors to website
Area of Expertise: Very close to what Mashable offers, TechCrunch excels in, well, technology news. The thing that makes TechCrunch stand out is that they also offer up in-depth analysis about what it is they’re speaking about.
Reasons for Popularity: People who follow TechCrunch get more than their news; they also get reviews and opinions and hard data on whether or not something works, how it works, and even predictions about a product or company going forward. They’re the favorite news network of startup web entrepreneurs everywhere.
What I’ve Learned: There is really a lot to learn by watching TechCrunch in action online. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that presenting analysis in a clean, organized way is important to readers (although you can’t always call TechCrunch completely unbiased.) It’s not always enough to give a news-like take on a topic. People want to know the how and the why behind it, and some critical analysis is essential for that.
Profile #5 – GigaOM
A Web 2.0 blog launched in 2006 by GigaOmniMedia, GigaOM is a popular social media brand in today’s competitive world. Similar to networks like Tubefilter and TechCrunch, GigaOM has cut its teeth by delivering strong analysis and opinion of tech-based news.
- 24k Facebook likes
- 100k Twitter followers
- Top-50 blog rank
Area of Expertise: The staff at GigaOM deliver tech news, just like a lot of other companies do, but they really excel at telling users what to be wary of. As most marketers know, it’s not always about finding what you should do; it’s often more about figuring out what you shouldn’t do. And this is where GigaOM scores big.
Reasons for Popularity: GigaOM has the popularity they have due to the fact that they pull no punches in their news delivery. If you want an expert view on a new tech product or service, GigaOM is going to give you the full picture. Followers seem to appreciate the candor. This is something they’ve translated into successful social profiles.
What I’ve Learned: GigaOM has taught me that text-based information can still sell in today’s market. You don’t need to attach colorful photos and cool videos to everything you do. You just need to present the information that your fans want, in a way they can absorb.
Profile #6 – Wildfire Interactive
Name: Wildfire by Google
One of the newest B2B software distributors on the scene, Wildfire Interactive is causing a stir amongst companies that want to streamline their Facebook activity and earn more followers.
- 178k Facebook likes
- 39k Twitter followers
Area of Expertise: Wildfire Interactive creates software for the B2B genre, including a wide range of apps to be used on social networks like Facebook.
Reasons for Popularity: Wildfire is extremely popular with businesspeople who have Facebook pages. Their apps allow for easy promotions and other great features, but Wildfire also makes you feel like a part of their business by letting you see a personal side of the company.
What I’ve Learned: From Wildfire, I’ve learned that you don’t always have to be strictly business – as in, you don’t have to create every page post or Tweet based on what you’re selling. You can implement polls and some humor and just ask people how they’re doing to personalize your brand.
Profile #7 – Jay Baer
Name: Jay Baer
VP of Internet Direct in 1994, cofounder of azfamily.com in 1999, and VP of visitalk.com in 2000, Jay Baer had a very impressive resume before starting his own agency in 2000, Mighty Interactive. After opening up this web strategy and SEO-based agency, Jay went on to start Convince & Convert in 2008, a social media strategy consultancy. He’s also coauthor of the hit book, The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social.
- 104k Facebook subscribers
- 67k Twitter followers
- 8k Google+ followers
Area of Expertise: Jay’s expertise deals with social media and Internet marketing in general. His different techniques and tactics have helped brands rise from the abyss into prominence, and he is a highly respected authority within his niche.
Reasons for Popularity: Jay Baer has a lot of the qualities you’ll find in a good sporting coach, and this makes him a great motivational speaker. He’s knowledgeable, approachable, and he presents his information in a friendly, informative way that anyone can understand.
What I’ve Learned: From looking at Jay’s Internet presence and his particular social strategy, I’ve learned that a to-the-point, helpful approach is something a lot of social users crave. His posts aren’t long-winded or packed full of other elements. When Jay has something to say, he says it without the filler and gives people exactly what they showed up for.
Profile #8 – Jessica Northey
Name: Jessica Northey
Head of Finger Candy Media and online correspondent for the Tony and Kris Morning Show, Jessica Northey is a big name in social media, with a business that helps others brands get ahead in this competitive medium.
- 4k Facebook likes
- 131k Twitter followers
- 500+ LinkedIn connections
- 22k blog likes
Area of Expertise: Jessica excels in social media branding, and her real expertise lies in helping musicians and others in the entertainment industry earn a lot of recognition. Apart from heading up her own site, she’s also a columnist at AllAccess.com and boasts an impressive client list.
Reasons for Popularity: Jessica’s online popularity isn’t an accident. Not only does she know her way around a solid branding approach, but she’s also incredible at motivating people. Her tweets are inspiring to many, exuding enthusiasm. She shows people exactly how they can get ahead.
What I’ve Learned: From studying Jessica’s presence, I’ve learned that you don’t have to have the most popular product or service to get ahead if you take the right approach and really work to inspire people. Country music—Jessica’s genre—is drowned out by pop and hip-hop, yet she is still able to target a niche very effectively while promoting various brands.
Profile #9 – Scobleizer
Name: Robert Scoble
An employee at Rackspace and owner of Scobleizer.com and Building43, Robert Scoble is one of the few ultra-successful entrepreneurs online who have had their Facebook account mysteriously shut down. Even still, there is a lot to learn by examining his other social profiles and his overall web presence.
- 299k Twitter followers
- In 2.8 million Google+ circles
Area of Expertise: A blogger and tech evangelist, Scoble is a former employee of Microsoft and has forgotten more about the tech industry and social marketing than most people will ever know. He’s currently working with a cloud-based company, Rackspace, and still delivers solid wisdom through his blogs.
Reasons for Popularity: Robert has been able to build up mass popularity for two reasons. First and foremost, he’s an undeniable computer tech expert, with more than enough credentials to prove it. Secondly, he’s very open about where he stands on everything across the board, and he’s an outgoing, friendly type of guy who is very welcoming.
What I’ve Learned: By watching Robert operate online, I’ve learned that blogging is still an impressive medium when done correctly. It allows you to convey a more detailed message, to brand yourself more distinctly, and to interweave your network to drive traffic efficiently to any space you wish.
Profile #10 – Trey Ratcliff
Name: Trey Ratcliff
An author, blogger and a fantastic photographer, Trey Ratcliff is a very influential person in the realm of social media. His website dealing with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, stuckincustoms.com, is one of the premier sites in its respective niche, and most of Ratcliff’s popularity is driven by his impressive social marketing. He also created the “100 cameras in 1” iPhone app.
- 391k Facebook subscribers
- 38k Twitter followers
- 106k Google+ followers
Area of Expertise: Ratcliff’s expertise is in HDR photography, but judging by the popularity of his social sites—which have made Trey the #1 photographer in his genre—it’s pretty clear that he’s also an expert at social media advertising.
Reasons for Popularity: Trey Ratcliff is popular for a wide number of reasons, the biggest of which being his unique style of photography brought to life through his many posts. He also posts a lot of great videos, tutorials and otherwise.
What I’ve Learned: It might sound a bit clichéd, but Trey has taught me that a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. And video can be worth just as much. He doesn’t run heavy on keywords or anything like that; Ratcliff mostly lures people in with his unique imagery.
Overall, I’ve learned a little something different from each of the 10 profiles described above. Some have taught me that it’s okay to be personal, while others reminded me that there’s still a time to be strictly professional when you need to drive a point home.
The right approach is out there. You only have to seek it out and use it.
– Stanna Johnson is a social media enthusiast who loves to write about the latest industry trends.