Martine Rolls: It's hard not to like social sharing

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I have hardly left the house over the past two weeks thanks to the horrible weather and a particularly nasty cold that I still refuse to call the flu.

Sick or not, I still managed to do a fair bit of work, joined a few professional online networks, and spent countless hours on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin in between sleeps and making cups of lemon and honey tea.

I've been looking at social media strategies in particular, and how Google and the likes are moving more towards social sharing.

Repeating keywords and having a bunch of links on the pages certainly doesn't ensure websites appear on the first page in organic search results anymore. That's a worn-out approach.

Technology is changing business and our society, and that same technology is also changing. It can be hard to keep up with, but people are getting more web-savvy every day. The next generation will be even more on to it.

At the moment, social sharing is the big thing. In some industries, especially fast-moving ones like fashion, entertainment, IT and internet marketing, blogs have become hugely influential.

They are online journals, written either for personal or business purposes. Other areas where blogging is popular are health and well-being, parenting, education and citizen journalism.

Some blogs are set up for personal reasons while others are purely commercial and aim to gain more exposure and business for a company.

Popular bloggers, and others who are being recognised for their smart social sharing, are perceived as experts by a big part of the web-savvy population.

It's always beneficial when people say good things about you, either in the real world or the virtual one.

What businesses and organisations need on their websites to perform well in search engine results is fresh and engaging content that gets shared by others.

A well-written blog is one of the things that can be done to accomplish that.

You will notice at least some of the five social icons (Twitter, FB Like, Google +1, Linkedin and FB Share) on most websites, but the important thing is that the content on that page is interesting enough for people to share on their own social media pages. If no one uses the buttons, what's the point?

Video bloggers on YouTube are another channel for individuals and businesses to bring their products, services and views to the world. YouTube claims more than one billion people visit the video-sharing site on a monthly basis, so it is no wonder a lot of businesses have turned to it as a possible revenue-maker.

Anyone can jump on board and work hard to increase the amount of followers to their video blogs, become a YouTube partner, and make money from regular contributions. Some people, including many Kiwis, are making a good living from it.

The people behind YouTube have recently announced they have a serious ambition to compete with traditional TV. They have opened studios in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo and launched more than 100 new original content channels. It has also been said they have paid advances worth about $300 million to some of their top video-makers.

Video blogs on YouTube are not really my thing, I find most of them quite boring, but my kids use them all the time. I have turned to YouTube's "How to" videos a few times as well, when I quickly needed to find out about something, like use all the things I can use my new android phone for, or how to roll sushi properly. It's much faster and easier than looking it up in a book or a printed manual.

Making money with YouTube sounds good but I've never had the ambition to be in front of a camera myself. Being on film just isn't for me. I'm getting a little old for that now anyway, with the big 40 coming up. Best leave that to the cute 17-year-olds.

But I have played around with the idea of setting up a blog, even though my friends keep telling me I need to find an activity away from the computer screen instead. It's not like I'm glued to my desk chair most of the day, but on cold and grey days like we've been having lately, I find myself reading other people's blogs and I find a number of them interesting and inspirational.

I can't sing, dance, paint or crochet but I can write, so a blog sounds like a pretty good idea, even if it means spending even more time on my computer. There is nothing quite like face-to-face networking, but the amount of people who turn to social media is still growing. It opens up a huge potential market so I can only advise businesses, organisations and creative people like myself to make good use of it.

Martine Rolls is a Tauranga writer and digital strategist.www.sweetorange.co.nz

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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