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James Gunter

James Gunter is the former head of social media marketing at CrimeReports.com and now runs a full-service content creation company at AsteriskContent.com.

What’s interesting about the growth of social media is that it has grown largely independent of search engines. That is, social networks have been fairly closed off places for the majority of their existence. That means that all the information and links shared through social networks wasn’t directly boosting your SEO. It was helping boost your brand name recognition and perhaps helping customers find ways to engage with you brand, but it wasn’t helping your Google rank.

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One of the fantastic things about social networking is that it is still evolving. But it’s not evolving because the social media sites themselves are trying to change in any way, but rather because users behavior is changing and adapting to these new systems. In the social networking landscape, it is not the networks that drive innovation; it is the users who drive the network toward change.

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The origins of Twitter reach back much further than its 2006 founding. In fact, they reach back further than the invention of the internet or the personal computer, all the way back to late 19th century England where speakers began to use a small corner of Hyde Park, London, for public debate. It was called Speakers’ Corner, and anyone and everyone could haul a soapbox to that corner of the park, stand atop it, and speak about their views and opinions to anyone who was passing by. Interesting speakers drew crowds. Boring speakers talked to the pigeons. And the tradition continues today.

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If you fell asleep in 2005 and just woke up, I have some news for you: social media has taken over the world. People connect with each other all over the world in real-time and in ways that were never possible before. Social media has become a huge factor in political campaigns, political revolutions, dating, and marketing.

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In 1985, Sally Field won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Places in the Heart.” During her acceptance speech, she uttered the now famous lines, “You like me, right now, you like me!” Often quoted as, “You like me, you really like me!”, this has become an oft parodied line at award shows as well as on TV and in the movies. Today, the word “like” has taken on a whole new meaning. Not only can people “like” you (enjoy being in your company), but they can “like” what you say and do in social media. And the same is true for brands and companies.

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Although Robert Frost found that taking the road less traveled made all the difference, your social media marketing campaign should help everybody find that same road and it should lead directly to you. Any good marketing campaign defines points of entry and channels of acquisition, and your social media campaign should be no less complicated.

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The word “virus” comes from Latin and indicates poison or other harmful substances. Many viruses are harmful to the human body, making us sick and in some cases killing us. “Virus” is also a term we use to indicate a malicious piece of software that has invaded our computers, making them run inefficiently or installing malware that can steal our personal information and give it to criminals who want to steal our identity. Interestingly, “virus” is also the term we use to indicate an internet meme or particularly cool and catchy piece of the web that gets passed along through email and social networks—like a virus.

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Social media marketing is the new frontier, and new frontiers scare people. They especially scare marketers and executives who have virtually no way of measuring the benefit of crossing into the new frontier. I know we all say that social media marketing is highly targeted, virtually cost-free, and will bring huge returns to those who invest in it, but it has been historically hard to measure the actual ROI on a social media marketing investment.

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Facebook Privacy

Facebook recently got into trouble when it was revealed that they were behind a Google smear campaign. Essentially, Facebook hired a PR firm to get journalists and bloggers to write negative press about Google’s privacy policies and practices. The tactic backfired when some enterprising journalists did some research and found out that Facebook was behind the campaign.

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