Larry BraunerIt’s fairly obvious that I’m not updating this blog very often. I used to write a major article every week, and now I barely write an article a month. I miss it and look forward to getting back to it. However, on the bright side, I’m busier than ever with social media — for others — and therefore have little time right now for personal blogging.

My main occupation is as head of social media and marketing for a high-end watch distributor 20 minutes drive from my home. On December 4, 2010, Ivo Jackson and I launched a “temporary” website for the company which by now is in desperate need of a major redesign and overhaul. To date our website has received 142,000 visits including 20K visits in this it’s sixteenth month, and 269,000 pageviews including 40K pageviews this month.

This effort has required an enormous amount of my time (I’m earnestly looking for a social media assistant to work locally with me in Rockland County, NY on this project) and the time of others including my principal freelance watch writer, John Sealander.

I’m also part-time social media head for American Friends of Retorno on a project that will help returning American soldiers recover from PTSD and drug addiction. Our website is nearly complete. I’ll be asking for your help once it’s fully set up.

While I do my work, I’m online all day, and Facebook or Small Business Network are probably the best places to find me. (I also accept all requests to connect on LinkedIn where I have in excess of 6,000 direct connections.)

I truly love networking and although very busy, I’m still very accessible. :-)

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Larry BraunerIn case you haven’t heard, “Friend Connect will be retired March 1, 2012,” says Google. This is not pleasant news for those websites that have sizable Google Friend Connect communities and whose community members have opted to receive newsletters from the site.

Google recommends that you join Google+ and invite your community to join with you in order to keep in touch. Compared to Google Friend Connect, Google+ is a rather lame tool for staying in touch. Google Friend Connect newsletters permitted direct community contact.

Google Ploy

Google+Google+ got off to a great start but seems to have lost much of its original momentum and engagement. Google probably hopes to give Google+ a shot in the arm by terminating Google Friend Connect and redirecting members.

If you have a community and wish to stay in touch, here are two approaches for creating email lists, are better than merely joining Google+ as Google advises.

If you have a small budget for an email contact list, I can use Aweber or Green Wave Email Marketing. I’m using both of them. Once you’re set up, ask your community to subscribe to your newsletter.

For a free email list, you can create your own group on a Ning social networking site, such as my Small Business Network. You will be able to email group members and to network with each other.

Invitation

I invite you to subscribe to this Online Social Networking blog and to join Small Business Network, so that we can stay in touch with each other. I’m also on Google+, Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter.

I love to network, and I’m very accessible. :-)

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Larry BraunerFacebook friend lists may one day become much more useful than they are at present if the top online social networking site ever finds the wherewithal to implement Facebook lists intelligently and with flexibility in mind.

Admittedly, Facebook has some of the friend list details right. For example, you can create custom friend lists that make sense to you and your personal or business interests. You can (finally!) assign friends to friend lists without leaving their profile pages. You can also (once again!) select which lists of friends will see any particular Facebook update.

TOO Much Help from Facebook

FacebookRecently, Facebook created so-called “smart” lists in order to help us with categorizing our Facebook friends. Smart lists are an excellent idea. Unfortunately, however, Facebook went too far with smart lists and let them overshadow our hand crafted lists.

Try to use Facebook friend lists to selectively invite people to Facebook events or to “like” Facebook pages. The only lists consistently available for such invitations are Facebook smart lists, even if those “smart” friend lists happen to be totally empty lists. That’s especially dumb. Don’t you agree?

SMARTer Facebook Friend List Selection

For invitations, Facebook could provide a similar friend list selection mechanism to the one the online social network employs for directing profile updates. Then, optional use of Facebook smart lists would be - uh smart.

Facebook expects users to invite selectively and responsibly. Why shouldn’t Facebook help us by correcting their smart friend list oversight?

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Larry BraunerThe successful LinkedIn IPO last week seems to indicate that investors expect business networking and content curation giant LinkedIn to grow within its niche despite increasing Facebook domination of the social web.

By maintaining a business focus, LinkedIn’s growth could persist unhampered by that of its social networking counterpart. For this reason, many articles have been written of late presenting strategies and techniques to maximize LinkedIn effectiveness, including my own 10 Tips for LinkedIn Social Networking.

LinkedIn Strategy and Technique

LinkedInThe following 18 articles explore a wide range of viewpoints, and they will hopefully help you to formulate and implement your LinkedIn plan:

  1. The LinkedIn IPO: Why it matters to your day-to-day
  2. Web Success in the LinkedIn Era
  3. How LinkedIn Changed The Way I Do Business
  4. LinkedIn Beginner Tips
  5. Social Networking: LinkedIn vs. Facebook
  6. 7 Steps To Help You Build Your Personal Brand On LinkedIn
  7. 10 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn for Personal Branding
  8. LinkedIn Strategies for Personal Branding
  9. How to get Recommendations on LinkedIn
  10. How to Drive Traffic from LinkedIn
  11. HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Advanced Social Media Search
  12. How to Make the Most from LinkedIn Company Pages
  13. LinkedIn Business Profiles: Add Admins to Your Company’s Profile
  14. Is your sensitive company info being leaked on LinkedIn?
  15. Cultivating Meaningful LinkedIn Connections
  16. Building Solid Business Relationships Using LinkedIn
  17. LinkedIn Marketing
  18. 10 Top LinkedIn Open Networkers and Connectors to Follow in 2011

I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn. My email address is in my LinkedIn profile, should you need it.

Please subscribe and “like” my Facebook page, too. :-)

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Larry BraunerThere are the old Facebook groups, and there are also the new Facebook groups that will very soon supersede the old.

I wrote several articles last summer about the old Facebook groups:

Since the content of old Facebook groups is not syndicated to news feeds, members only become aware of new content through an intrusive group broadcast or by randomly visiting the group.  Unfortunately, I became increasingly disenchanted with old Facebook groups because of too little engagement and interactivity.

New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc

FacebookAlong came new Facebook groups, and I quickly seized the opportunity to try them out. Before long, I wrote about my experience with the new groups in New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc:

“By default, a member is notified every time another member posts. If the new Facebook group is large, members will be bombarded with unwanted email notifications and chat window popups. The engagement problem is solved, but a new notification problem is created.

“Users who are bothered by the quantity of email notifications can change their notification setting to “only posts I am subscribed to” and reduce or eliminate the notification problem — once they figure out how to do so.

“However, there’s a bigger problem not yet mentioned: One can be added by Facebook friends to new Facebook groups without pre-approval. Therefore, before one knows what’s happening, and before one can leave the group or change one’s notification setting, emails start flowing into his or her inbox, seemingly out of nowhere.”

With the new Facebook groups, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction. The potential for unwanted notifications and spam alarmed me. Facebook had created a virtual monster.

New Facebook Groups Superseding the Old

Perhaps the havoc has subsided or there was less of it than I imagined, for Facebook has decided to phase out the old Facebook groups and to phase in the new. They’ve done a little tweaking to the groups but not much. All I can advise, therefore, is to use the new Facebook groups with caution. I hope Facebook’s initiative will be successful.

Check out Facebook Groups – a complete Guide. If used effectively, the new Facebook groups can be a great tool for networking and collaboration. I plan to use the new form of groups primarily for business networking.

My New Facebook Groups

I invite you to join me in any of my new Facebook groups that interest you. Simply join a group and wait for your membership to be approved. These are my seven new Facebook groups:

  1. Larry Brauner (My Personal Group)
  2. Fabulous Baby Boomers
  3. Social Media Enthusiasts
  4. Enterprising Business Leaders
  5. Rockland County, New York
  6. Watch Enthusiasts
  7. Stumblers (StumbleUpon Group)

Want to invite readers to join your new Facebook groups? The floor is now yours. Go ahead and leave a comment. :-)

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Larry BraunerI work at a watch company for which social media and web marketing are key tools for accelerating its business expansion.

As Social Media Director, I flew with our team to Basel, Switzerland in March to attend Baselworld, the grandest and most important watch and jewelry event of the  year.

Social Media Help Wanted

Haurex 1K374UNN INK Collections Featuring Aluminum and Rubber as Announced at Baselworld 2011I explained in My Social Media Mission Abroad that I was visiting at Baselworld 2011 with the dozens of watch brands we represent to discuss social media collaboration and ideas for future projects.

I realized, of course, that I’d need substantial help to carry out the social media plans made in Basel.

Besides freelance writers who can appreciate and blog about luxury, fashion and watches, I’m also looking locally in the Greater New York area for an art director, PR expert and advertising specialist.

New Social Media Profit Centers

For decades, I’ve been intrapreneurial. Now, in addition to leveraging our Internet properties to promote our firm and its many watch brands, it’s my intention, as well, to turn these websites into profit centers and totally new income streams.

So far we have several work-at-home bloggers and a few candidates for the in-house positions. To recommend someone or apply yourself for any of these opportunities, check out my Connect page.

Social Media Watch

I’ll keep you informed about our social media moves and their effectiveness. Please subscribe and join me on Facebook — and don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. ;-)

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Larry BraunerI just returned from My Social Media Mission Abroad in Basel, Switzerland, where I discussed social media with our watch brands attending the Baselworld 2011 event.

Is social media strategist a hazardous occupation? I didn’t think that it was until a certain unpleasant incident that occurred at Baselworld. Let me explain.

One afternoon, as I was walking around the fair taking pictures of gorgeous watch brand booths, I neglected an important step up to a raised platform and fell conspicuously face-down upon a booth’s floor. The booth may have been too dimly lit, or I may have been overly engrossed in my endeavor. In either case, I landed on the hardwood surface of the booth and impacted my left knee.

Booth personnel rushed to my aid and, after confirming that I had no broken bones nor life threatening injuries, escorted me to a seat. They encouraged me to expose my bare knees and ascertained that no skin had been broken nor was there a hint of blood. It was only a bruise, and they were relieved.

You see, of all the places to take a tumble, perchance I accorded the honor to the Rolex Watches booth.

The Rolex people were understandably relieved that I was back on my feet before ambulance chasers arrived on the scene.

Now, if my story sounds exaggerated or seems unrelated to social media, please accept my insincere apology, dear reader. Today being April 1st, I’ve exercised my poetic license and enjoyed a bit of fun at your expense.

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Larry BraunerI’m writing from Baselworld 2011, the giant international watch and jewelry expo that takes place yearly in Basel, Switzerland. The watch show, with its grand and intricate exhibits, is very exciting.

I’m wondering how many people, like myself, are in Basel for social media or are even aware of the social web beyond Facebook or their favorite blog – probably no more than fraction of the 80K attendees.

Baselworld 2011

Baselworld 2011I came to  Basel to interview as many of the Baselworld 2011 exhibitors as I could, but I chose instead a more focused and practical mission: to visit the many watch brands our company represents and to discuss social media collaboration with them.

I’ve been asking each of our watch brands to supply me regularly with content for our company blogs that feature and promote them.

In other words, rather than source all content by myself, I’m building partnerships with our watch brands to share the effort. If even half follow through and send me the desired text, photos and videos, I’ll have ample content for our blogs and  web presence.

That’s the game plan. Your thoughts?

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Larry BraunerThe social media and web marketing space is evolving, and we must therefore continually revise our social media and web marketing strategies and techniques.

Here are several cases in point that affect social media and web marketing practice, especially for small business.

Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking

FacebookFor years, Facebook was an open social networking site that permitted members to befriend people whom they didn’t know despite mounting privacy concerns.

However, in 2010, Facebook tightened its friending policies in order to combat phishing and spamming practices.

It appears that Facebook now evaluates friend requests based on degrees of separation and profiles users who repeatedly go out-of-bounds, restricting their friending capabilities.

Consequently, we must regard Facebook as a closed networking site going forward, despite the Facebook Freedom to Share and Connect principle, and find approaches to building our Facebook networks that don’t raise red flags.

Hello Ning Open Networking

Ning Social NetworksSince the Ning shift earlier this year from free or paid networks to paid-only networks, protest from disgruntled free-site creators has subsided and, as promised, Ning has come through with improved functionality upgraded periodically.

While Ning cannot compete with Facebook based neither on popularity nor functionality, Ning is nevertheless a great platform for creating niche social networking sites and for open networking.

I’ve dedicated the Small Business Network, my own Ning networking site, to the pursuit of open social and business networking, and I would be delighted if you would join me there.

You can still share via broadcast any of your Ning content, like blog posts or pictures, with all your Ning friends, a feature not found on the Facebook or LinkedIn social networks.

Search Engine Optimization Still Pays Big

GoogleNotwithstanding my remarks in The NEW Search Engine Optimization, search engines are still the mightiest source of website traffic, and SEO is still the most vital web marketing activity.

Social media sites send thousands of visitors per month to Online Social Networking. However, Google and other search engines send much more. Having a website or blog site and optimizing it for search engines and humans is of paramount importance if you want to market successfully on the web.

Put website development and optimization at the very top of your to-do list for 2011.

Please accept my sincere wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful New Year. I look forward to growing and sharing with you in the years to come.

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Larry BraunerWCBS Radio 880 reported, based upon a source I have not been able to find, that personal blogs had peaked, and that people find the time commitment necessary for blogging to be excessive.

In other words, bloggers are experiencing burn-out, because they have difficulty justifying the investment of time and energy in their personal blogs.

Perhaps you’ve heard this story too. In any case, I’m asking, what will you do with this information? Will it will be a justification for quitting blogging? Will it be an excuse for not starting? I’ll share with you my perspective.

How Often Must You Blog?

Many believe that you must blog daily to grow an audience. I do not. While blogging daily might be optimal, less frequent but consistent blogging can lead to success. My personal strategy is to post here at least once per week, usually Sunday evening. I post a second time if a need arises. Applying the 80/20 rule, I’ve achieved a substantial result from ongoing moderate effort.

Craft a blogging plan based on your own situation and objectives. Blogging isn’t one size fits all.

Can Less Competition for Blog Readers Hurt?

Readers' EyeballsSuppose that personal blogs really are waning. Why should you become just another statistic? Less competition for readers’ eyeballs will help, not hurt. Some people want to quit blogging or not start, but you and I don’t have to follow their lead. People who blog intelligently will thrive. I prefer to be one of those people. How about you? :-)

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