5 signs of changing times

18 09 2009

timeNowadays the web is full of social media gaffes – embarrassing and inappropriate comments made online, making sites like Lamebook and  Oversharer hugely popular.

As we have previously discussed on Community Girl, the lines of private and public have been challenged and blurred, with society still grappling with the consequences on having a profile online. But with appropriateness/inappropriateness aside, there seems to be a real change in the way people handle certain situations and procedures.

Trapped in a drain? No way to escape? Update your Facebook status!

Robbing a house? Want to check what your friends are doing? Want to check your friends latest holiday snaps? Don’t forget to log out!

Investigating a robbery? Want to catch the perp? Wanting more friends on Myspace? Add him as a friend on Myspace and politely ask him to turn himself in!

Feeling disgruntled with your customers? Customers at work really grinding your gears? Why not publicly announce that you would like to “cattle prod” or “punch” them on your company’s Facebook group!

Feeling bored at work? Want to keep your followers updated on all your daily happenings? Want to share real-time information about your students? Tweet during the class while you teach!

While I have previously asked if people should be held responsible for what they say and write online – it looks like social media is presenting further difficulties in what people do offline as well.

You can’t say that!

25 08 2009

no voiceThe online space has created an unrestrained and unaccountable voice – until recently.

More and more frequently, we are beginning to see people being held responsible for their words and actions online. Online forums, social networks, online communities  – have all enabled the public to voice their words to a much larger audience than ever before. It’s much easier to voice ones opinions or views, hidden behind the anonymity of a screen name, and a faceless computer screen.

But with issues like cyber bullying becoming a frequent problem, the question needs to be asked – should we allow people total freedom of speech online?

Should people be held accountable for what they say on the web?

Already we are seeing an increase in the percentage of employers checking the online profiles of prospective and current employees – with the drunk and disorderly soon finding themselves without a job. 45% of employers to be exact.

We also saw Lori Drew, the Missouri mother who saw criminal charges being laid against her, after she had created a false profile on MySpace, which she then used to taunt and make cruel comments about one of her daughter’s friends, Megan Meir. These actions resulted in her suicide shortly after.

How simple is it to create numerous and anonymous identities online?

Is it appropriate to hold people accountable when they misuse these profiles?

Some seem to believe that it’s not, with rights groups becoming nervous that more cases of this kind will challenge a threat to free speech. Last year the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Center for Democracy & Technology, Public Citizen and 14 other law professors, filed an amicus brief, purporting that the charges against Lauri Drew:

“The groups argue that, while the events were tragic, holding the mom criminally responsible could have “dangerous ramifications” for all US citizens who use the Internet.” (Source: Ars Tecnica)

While we praise the web 2.0 for ensuring that companies are being held responsible for their actions – are we comfortable with the developing notion of ‘free speech’ online? Tiphereth Gloria also discusses this in Social Media Accountability is a two way street.

The recent case involving Google and disgruntled model Lisuka Cohen – saw the landmark decision that forced Google to reveal the identity of the anonymous ‘Skanks of NYC’ blogger. While the (not so tough anymore) blogger plans to sue Google for the loss of anonymity, it seem that your poisoned comments are no longer safe online, ey?

What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

21 08 2009

Fantastic presentation from Marta Kagan…

The first step is admitting you have a problem…

1 05 2009

internet-addictionDo you check Facebook >20 times per day?

Do you Tweet >15 times per day?

Is Facebook and Twitter the first and last things you check in your day?

Do you feel closer to your followers, than you do your own family and friends?

When something happens in your life, minor or significant, is your first urge to update your status?

Then you may have a problem…

With social networking, enterprise 2.0, and the all things digital seemingly everywhere – it may be time to take a break. Especially if it seems to be taking over our lives.

Most of us not only use these platforms for leisure, we are constantly using them for work as well.

Elizabeth Cohen detailed in her recent article “Five Clues that you are addicted to Facebook” some very serious examples of social networks becoming close to addiction.

Even Sarah Browne, of Guru of New blog, recently gave up Facebook for Lent, allowing her to devise “Seven Signs You May be Ready for a Social Media Detox” with a clear mind.

As I’m in the business of Social Media, how do you find the happy medium between healthy usage and obsession?

How can you even be sure that you have crossed the line between the two?

Image [http://complexes.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_archive.html]

Brands on Facebook

24 04 2009

social-networkI feel quite strongly about the fact that Facebook is not a suitable fit for all brands.

For brands who are wanting to  set up some kind of presence within social media, Facebook is an easy to set-up, cheap option – but just by setting up a page within the popular social network, doesn’t really ensure that you are engaging with your customers effectively.

Just being on Facebook ≠ smart social media plan.

But that being said, there are tools within the platform which brands can use to engage their customers.

  1. Set up a group page, where your customers can become “Fans”
  2. Advertise on the right hand column
  3. Create an application

Mashable has a great article which explains the “5 Elements of a Successful Facebook Fan Page”

Do you think being a “Fan” equates to being an advocate of your brand?

Do you think that Facebook’s recent changes have improved and created a more suitable space for companies to exist?

The power of the people

20 04 2009

speech-bubbleNever before has it been more evident how strong the voice of the people is online.

Are you a dissatisfied customer?

Do you feel that you have been treated unfairly?

Is something really grinding your gears?

The online space now provides a platform or sounding board for anyone who has something to say  – to an audience of  millions.

Last week the recent #AmazonFAIL controversy erupted, with The Church of the Customer blog detailing how the event unfolded in 24 hours.

Thousands of enraged and offended members of the public – took to the online arena to voice their dissatisfaction at Amazon’s actions. Within hours #AmazonFAIL was being discussed about in hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, groups of protest had been set up within social networking platforms such as Facebook, and customers across the web were calling for a boycott.

By the next day Amazon had released a statement, blaming a cataloguing error and that they would rectify their mistake…

(Update: April 16 – Twitterers have since revealed that “Amazon has been gradually censoring over the past year” )

Company’s are now being held accountable for their actions, but how they react to the online discussion may further damage their reputation or repair it.

When Facebook changed their Terms of Service, thousands of it’s users voiced their concerns, and consequently the social networking giant was forced to review it’s changes.

Abbey Klaasen had a great article on Tuesday about “How to Weather a Twitterstorm”, which details how essential it is for companies to respond to their mistakes swiftly and carefully – and be honest to their customers.

Domino’s faced a monumental task or repairing their world-wide reputation, after the actions of two of their employees, meant that many would never be likely eat a pepperoni pizza ever again.

Even social causes and injustices which once may have remained unknown or unheard – can now organise support within hours. Moldovan activist, Natalia Morar discovered this over a week ago, when over 20,000 supporters arrived  to the protest after posting on Twitter and other social networking sites.

The web works toward allowing people’s right to Freedom of Speech to be exercised wherever  they are, whatever their message.

Should I meet you here or there?

6 04 2009

communityI have had a lot of discussions of late about the validity of “destination” communities. In Australia, most social media campaigns utilise pre-existing social networking platforms like Facebook, to engage with their audience.

My line of work deals predominantly with destination communities, that is online-communites which are built specifically for a brand or a topic. These sites will typically include functions ranging from a blog, a discussion board, surveys, member profiles, to an idea exchange, and voting.

At the recent Ad:Tech several speakers talked about social media being all about “going to where your consumers are”. So if your target market is 16 – 21 year old males, then setting up shop in youtube, Facebook and Myspace is where you need to consider.

But I don’t think that this is necessarily the case. How many brands have arrived at Facebook just to set up an unseen and unvisited group/profile, or created an application that quickly became hidden amongst the other millions of applications that exist on Facebook?

The US has numerous (hundreds and hundreds) examples of successful destination communities, that engage a large audience, have a high percentage of return visitors, and exist completely removed from any of the well established social networking platforms.

For most in agency land I can imagine that setting up a campaign in a pre-populated network makes a lot of sense, takes less time/money/effort to set up, and when the campaign finishes, users are left to communicate on the site.

Destination communities are set up for the long term – used to establish relationships and loyalty with their customers.

Which do you think works better in today’s digital age?

Is it a good idea for companies to be entering people’s social networking space to try and involve them in a brand – or do consumers feel like these sites should be left solely for interaction with their friends and family?

Should they be used to complement each other?

Examples of these destination online-communities:

And the list goes on…

On-line identity

26 03 2009

stick_figureMy generation, once described as the Future Leaders of our country, should be a little concerned about how easy it will be for their opposition or enemies to dig up dirt from their past.

Thanks to the digital age, our every move on-line is documented, stored, and will be easily found through search engines for years to come.

Social networking has now been a part of my life for a considerable time, for both work and leisure – and while the knowledge of this documentation makes me cautious of my on-line activity, it will not cause me to run and hide from any interaction on the web.

This year there has been numerous examples of  employers utilising social networks to monitor their current employees and screen any future employees. Olivier Blanchard in his post “How to lose your job in 140 or less”, tells the cautionary tale of a woman who had won a job at the US computer company Cisco – and had then proceeded to gripe about it on her Twitter account. Needless to say a Cisco employee found her tweet and responded quickly – not the best way to start a new job??

In the age of applications like Google alerts, a search for any mention of a company’s name is no longer an arduous task – or can be assumed will be hidden like a needle in haystack amongst the huge amount of content on-line.

Julian Cole in his post on Tuesday  – depicts how for the youth of today, your lowest/loosest/most shameful/funniest moments will be documented on networking sites like Facebook – bringing amusement and entertainment to millions of people, and permanent shame to the people involved.

Any people applying for jobs? As mentioned before be warned that many employers are now enlisting Google as a tool for background search. Seth Godin in “Personal branding in the age of Google” describes how relieved his friend must have been to get a closer look at each of the three people who had applied to become her housekeeper – a binge drinker, a job snob, and a criminal – hmmm such a hard choice…

We are now living in a world that is scarily similar to what Ben Elton has satirised in his dystopian novel “Blind Faith“, with our lives, opinions and memories existing on the web.

A lesson to those young folk out there? The ones who are becoming so comfortable with documenting every aspect of their lives on-line? You can’t un-Google yourself.

Facebook Reinvented

24 03 2009

new-facebookWhy is Facebook trying to look like Twitter?

Why is Facebook drastically altering the usability of their platform – and in the process annoying a huge portion of their members?

While I understand that Facebook is trying to continually evolve, to reinvent the platform so that it remains a relevant and interesting social network – the response that I have read over the last two weeks has been mostly negative.

Sarah Perez, in her article  “Like Its Users, The New Facebook Is All Grown Up”, highlights some of the changes that have been implemented – explaining that most of these will actually benefit the users. Maybe it’s mostly the drastic change in design that most people are finding hard to deal with?

I know there was a similar response to changes made last year – but I found those changes weren’t nearly as intrusive as the ones made in this round.

Now offering a real-time stream – we are told by Peter X. Deng on the Facebook blog – but my stream hasn’t seemed to update since last week?

Facebook may be trying to keep up with it’s competition – but it needs to remember that their members liked the previous design, were loyal to the site, and went there over other networking platforms because of its ease of use, and the way that it connected them with people that they wouldn’t necessarily have kept in contact with.

With the huge number of comments, groups and voting applications that have appeared since the last changes – I hope that Facebook responds positively and listens to the feedback – as it is their users that have made Facebook one of the most popular social networking platforms worldwide.