The other day in Central Florida, a young woman decided it would be a good idea to document her experience with drunk driving on a social network called “Periscope”. Periscope is a new app that lets users share a livestream video of what they are currently doing, using their smartphone. People viewing the stream can comment & the user can respond to their comments live. Sounds like a great app, right? Well, for this particular user (our drunk girl), people became concerned about her irresponsible behavior, and called the cops (who then had to have a rookie download the app for them – giggle, old people). By watching the landmarks passing in her background, the cops were able to locate her & arrest her for driving while intoxicated.
For most of our Stogie Press readers, social media networks have been in their lives for, well, all their lives. They grew up with the idea of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, StumbleUpon or Reddit. The idea that you couldn’t easily connect with people who shared your interests or background seems inconceivable. But, up until Web 2.0, that was not the case.
Social networks are the connections you have to people in your life. They are your neighbors, your friends, your frat brothers, your classmates, your business acquaintances and your family. These connections sometimes interconnect, sometimes they don’t. Before the internet, these connections were always made on a face to face basis. Before the new millennium, people were limited to who they could connect to. In addition, if you lost track of the people who meant something in your life, well, there was little you could easily do. Family members lost track of each other. People you went to school with were gone as soon as you stopped communicating. Often, once that connection was gone, that was it. You had to go through Herculean efforts to find them.
But that is now in the past. Starting with the BBS’s of the 80’s, onto CompuServe & AOL to MySpace, Friendster and, of course, Facebook, social networking has become a part of our lives.
Today there is a social network for every interest out there. There’s, of course, Facebook – the mac daddy of social networks. It basically swallows up competitors who offer products that might take some of its market share – think “What’sAp” or “Instagram” – going with the ‘if you can’t beat them, eat them’ philosophy. Facebook, as of last month, has over 900 million unique monthly visitors (UMV). Just to put that in perspective, the next largest social network, Twitter has 310 million UMV. Facebook is a generalist. You can post anything you like, create groups of people with the same interests, then share your knowledge or learn from more experienced people. Boston Jimmie, our publisher, is the admin of the “Best Ash” group on Facebook. He’s always willing to share with anyone. Other cigar enthusiast groups include:
- Cigar Cartel
- Cigars After Dark: The Original
- Brothers of the Leaf
- LOLA’s: Ladies of the Leaf
- Cigars N More
- Sex, Cigars & Booze Lifestyle Magazine
- The Cigar Life
- (CATS) Cigar Aficianado Trades and Sales
These are just a few of the cigar lovers’ groups. There are also pages for every cigar manufacturer, both boutique & large companies. Some of the sales ambassadors also have pages devoted to their brands, which will only allow you to post about those brands. Some of the groups & pages are open to anyone to join, some require you to request membership from the admin(s). All the FB groups have rules, some lax, some very specific that you have to abide by, so be sure to read & respect those rules if you want to join or post to a group.
After Facebook, the next largest social network is Twitter. As I said above, they have 310 million UMV. Twitter is currently being used more and more by older Americans – Donald Trump loves it! Younger Americans are kind of walking away from Twitter because, you know, like typing 140 characters is just too much. Reading it is even worse. They like a more instant connection, and are turning to Instagram instead.
Instagram has 100 million UMV, and the simplicity of it is what makes it work. A picture, after all, is worth a thousand words. Instagram lets you post pictures and videos that can be shared within your group of followers. Instagram is currently the 7th most popular social network, behind LinkedIn (255 million UMV) Pinterest (250 million UMV), Google+ (120 million UMV) and Tumblr (110 million UMV). Most of your boutique cigar brands love Instagram, and use it to connect to their customer base. Some do a great job, some, ummm, not so much. It all depends on who owns the company, and how much they believe in social media marketing. Crux Cigars does a great job with Instagram, as does Cordoba y Morales Cigars. Both these premium quality brands love to show off what is going on with their brand using Instagram’s picture posting.
Each social network offers different ways to share & learn from other users. LinkedIn specializes in social networking among business people. You can post your resume, have people make recommendations about you & post your job offerings, as well as articles of interest to your field. Cigar manufacturers, their sales reps and the personalities behind the brands all have pages on LinkedIn. Rocky Patel Cigars & Drew Estate both have pages on LinkedIn, however, I was surprised to find that many other major brands do not.
Pinterest lets you gather things you like from around the internet in one convenient place. You can keep your pins private or share them with the community at large. A quick search of Pinterest/cigars shows a variety of pins about cigars, cigar smoking and other things of interest. Pinterest is heavily dominated by women (over 80% of users), so especially great place for the Ladies of the Leaf – a search, by the way, that produces nothing to do with cigars.
Google+, however, is heavily dominated by men. Specifically, men aged 25 – 45. With Google+, you create circles of people with similar interests, and network with others to create more connections. Because everything that Google offers (YouTube, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Business, Google API etc. etc.) requires a Google+ account, it tends to be more or less ignored by its users. People create the account to get access to Google’s other offerings. Web developers are mostly men, aged 25 – 45, so that is the majority of their base.
Tumblr is basically an online diary. It allows users to create individual blogs of their thoughts, hobbies or interests. These blogs can then be shared with anyone is the network. You can post essays, thoughts, pics or videos, which can then be picked up by anyone else you allow, letting you get to know and meet new people. Tumblr is very big with the hipster crowd. Some of my favorite cigar Tumblrs are Celebrities Smoking Cigars (did you know Nick Jonas smokes cigars?), CigarDaddyLover and Cigar Boss of the Day. Good stuff!
There are lots of other great social networks being created every day. Some up and coming networks include Wanelo, which stands for “Want, Need, Love”. It’s basically a pin board like Pinterest, but offers the opportunity to actually purchase what you see.
There is Vine. Vine allows users to post short duration videos – no more than 6 seconds long. What can you do or say in 6 seconds or less? Well, to be honest, an awful lot. Vine allows the user to record with an in app camera, which only records when it is touched. The camera also has controls like slow motion & stop action. Just a quick search for the keyword “cigar” has lots of fun interesting vids. Vine is very popular with 14 – 20 year olds, and there have been some wildly creative things posted on Vine, so go check it out!
Slideshare is another social networking app that has great business potential. With Slideshare, you create slideshow presentations, then upload them to the network to share with others. It has been popular with businesses trying to create or share a message or for business meeting purposes.
Meetup is an online facilitator of offline meetings. You create a group, then decide on a place to meet up & network with each other, sharing whatever it was that brought you together.
Then we also have Reddit, StumbleUpon, Behance, Bebo, Foursquare or 4chan. I’m also sure that there are social networks on the dark web, but that, my friends is a subject for another day….