Social Media Made Simple with EarthLink Web Hosting

social media integration with SocialStream and EarthLink Web HostingWhether you have a large, multi-location business, a small local retail store, or you’re an individual service provider like a lawyer or accountant, you should at least be experimenting with social media.

Social media can be a great way for all kinds of businesses to connect with and engage customers and potential customers, to showcase your brand (even if it’s just your personal brand), to promote loyalty, and to distribute promotions. Along with your company website, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer you an additional online channel promote your business. But managing your business’s social media for multiple social networks can be a lot of work to keep up with.

The good news if you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer is that all of our hosting and ecommerce plans include a free tool, called SocialStream, to help simplify and streamline the process of managing your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social networks from one easy-to-use social media dashboard.

How to Set Up SocialStream

  1. Sign into your Web Hosting Control Center at https://control.earthlink.net with your web hosting domain name, username and password.
  2. From the Build tab, click on the SocialStream icon.
  3. Click the Social Networks link.
  4. Click the Connect button for each of the social networks you want to connect to your web hosting account (you will need to have signed up for the social networks first). If you ever want to disconnect a network, simply come back to this page and click Disconnect.connect social media accounts to web hosting account
  5. A new window will pop up for each network you select, asking you to allow Social Media Tracker to access your account. Click Authorize or Okay. (You may also need to sign in at the same time if you are not already signed in to the service.)

How to Post to Multiple Social Networks

  1. If you are already in SocialStream, click the Communicate tab at the top of the page. If not, sign back into your Web Hosting Control Center and click the SocialStream icon and then the Communicate link.
  2. Simply enter your post in the Add New Comment box (following the appropriate limits, such as 140 characters), select which networks you want to post to (or click the Select All button to post to all of them), and click Post Status.
  3. You will see a confirmation message indicating your post was successful.

How to Track Your Social Media Posts

After you’ve started posting to your social networks, you’ll probably want to keep track of how they are working. SocialStream makes that simple, too.

  1. If you are already in SocialStream, click the History tab at the top of the page. If not, sign back into your Web Hosting Control Center and click the SocialStream icon and then the History link.
  2. Click the Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook icons to see information for one network at a time or click Show All.
  3. You’ll see Posts, No. of Replies, Likes and the Time of the post. The most recent posts are on top.
  4. Click the Follower Posts tab to see the users who are following your posts on your social networks and any replies to your posts.

Let us know how social media working for your business by leaving a comment below. Good luck!

Living with Social Media

Social media has completely permeated our culture.  No one will be mad if you pass up using super-specific social networking sites and apps (like Pinterest), but you’ll definitely get sideways looks if you tell people you’re not on Facebook.

It’s odd that, with all the popularity of social media, theredon’t seem to be any tips sheets or guides on how to “properly” use it. And that’s exactly why EarthLink has put together a quick cheat sheet to help you with the basics:

BE YOURSELF

When the internet was newer, anonymity was key.  Disguising your true identity with usernames like “HappyMom97″ was a socially acceptable way to communicate through your computer.  This is no longer the case.  People want to find you (actual people from your past and present, like your friends, relatives, and coworkers), so it’s expected that you will now use your real name and a real photo in your social media profiles (some sites, like Google+, even require it!).  That being said, please NEVER including sensitive information like addresses, phone numbers, or even your current and past employment (the one exception is LinkedIN, a professional social site where it pays to show off your resume).

WRITE FOR YOUR MOTHER

If you wouldn’t want your mother to read it or see it, don’t post about it or upload a picture of it.  Only share photos of yourself that you’d be proud for an employer to see (the number of employers using social media to check up on applicants and current employees is on the rise), and try to avoid heated discussions.  Those conversations always work better face-to-face, and people reading it can easily take what you say out of context, no matter how well-worded or thought-out it is.

BE FRIENDS WITH…FRIENDS

Only “friend” people you know in real life.  If you get a message from a stranger, feel free to message back (most sites allow messaging…like an in-social-media email…between non “friends”), but don’t “add” them until you’ve met or spoken outside of social media.

KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE

  • Send a message if you want it to privately talk to someone
  • Post on a friend’s wall if it’s for a specific person, but one of your or their friends might enjoy what you’re sharing (like a recipe or a video of a sleeping cat)
  • Post a status about something general that all your friends might enjoy (like the deal on lunch you discovered)
  • Only comment on a post or status with something relevant (Example: if the original post is “I adore ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles,” comment “Me too!” and not “I miss you…how are you?”  That’s better for a separate wall post or message.

Use these as a jumping off point to get yourself settled into communicating through social media.  It’s meant to be a fun way to represent yourself online, so have fun with it!

Internet Access Plays a Part in Purchasing Choices

Internet Access became an American need for people to have access to email, news, games, and (more recently) social media.  Being able to shop online is also a large positive of internet access, but a recent Nielsen survey shows that the internet may play a deeper role in purchase choices than we initially thought.

According to the survey, people were most likely to make a purchase based on (in order): advice of family/friends (around 77%), physically seeing a product in-store (72%), free samples (70%), searching the Web (67%), expert advice (66%) and TV and radio ads (59%).

Breaking it down by product categories, consumers replied that internet access is either “very” or “somewhat important” when making purchase decisions for electronics (81%), appliances (77%), books (70%), music/clothing (69% each), and automobiles (68%). At least 60% said it also influenced the buying of food, hygiene products, over-the-counter medicine, and hair care.  And while social media was built as a way to connect with friends, the Nielsen survey discovered that 1/3 of U.S. consumers are actively researching products on social sites like Facebook.

So the internet isn’t just a place to come to buy a product; internet access allows you to take the entire shopping process (research, comparison, decision, and purchase) out of the retailer and into your home.  One wonders if eventually we’ll need to leave the house for anything!

Facebook Announces New Graph Search

New Facebook Graph Search Announced This WeekIs a new type of search headed your way? If you’re a Facebook user, yes.

Just this Tuesday, Facebook held a press conference to announce what it is calling Graph Search.

The search product is considered to be in very early, limited beta, so you can’t go try it out just yet. But you can get on a waitlist to be one of the earlier users.

Is Facebook’s Graph Search going to replace Google or Bing for most users web searching? No.

But it’s not meant to.

The new search is more a way to intelligently leverage the network of people and information you already have within Facebook, rather than extend Facebook into the web search world.

Facebook explains it like this:

“Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook.”

Searches, at least at first, will be limited to people, places, photos, and interests. They will also be private, meaning “you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”

Search for Places

You may turn to the new search as a kind of recommendation engine, like Yelp, but based on your network. So you’ll search for nearby restaurants that your friends like.Or a dentist they like.

But you’ll also be able to refine your searches by more personal criteria. You could, for example, search for restaurants liked by your single friends vs. your married friends. Or favorite restaurants of people you went to college with. Or favorite restaurants of people who work at a certain company.

 Search for People

The new search will let you do simple things, like find all your friends that live in your city. But you can get much more granular and specific than that, searching, for example, for friends who like jazz music or running. If you’re planning a trip you may search for friends who’ve been to the destination you’ll be visiting.  When looking for a golf buddy you could search for people who like golf and live nearby.

Search for Photos

Photo search should also be popular, allowing you to find photos by person, place, or date. You can even use it to look back at “photos I like,” photos you’ve commented on, photos from specific trips (e.g., “photos of me at the grand canyon”), or times (“photos of friends in 2007”). Your photo search doesn’t have to be limited to your own photos either.

Search for Interests

Like the place searches, interest searches will often be used to find recommendations, such as “music my friends like.” Again, you will be able to use the searches to find recommendations of people with similar tastes outside of your network of friends, such as “movies liked by people who like movies I like” (which is the kind of thing Netflix has done well). You can also use the search to find out the tastes of different subsets of people, such as “books read by school teachers” vs. “books read by authors” vs. “books read by CEOs.”

Want to learn more? Check out Danny Sullivan’s Up Close with Facebook Graph Search at SearchEngineLand.com.

Remember, the new Facebook Graph Search won’t be widely available for months. But it looks like it will be an interesting, useful, and fun addition to the Facebook experience.