Posts Tagged: MySpace

The Reports of Facebook’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Please believe me when I say that I fervently wish reports of Facebook’s pending doom like this one were true. I just can’t agree, however. I think it is the wishful thinking of a tech press, sour investors and tech savvy professionals that don’t like the platform, and that it doesn’t take into account some key factors.

The most significant factor this prediction ignores is the human element. I agree that Facebook is evil and manhandles our privacy on a regular basis. I’d love to see people stand up and fight to prevent the significant changes the careless use of Facebook on a regular basis has made to our individual concept of accepted privacy vs publicy and how those changes are (negatively) impacting our society. The chances of that happening are slim to none, however, no matter how hard people like myself advocate for vigilantly guarding your right to privacy.

Completely ignoring the added issues of Facebook’s impact on how we think, our workday and our offline relationships, we can’t ignore one thing Facebook has mastered: it’s users behavior and emotional need to connect. Facebook has inserted itself into our lives in a way that MySpace and Yahoo simply never did. It’s crossed a barrier between generations that neither of those social networks were able to cross by finding a way to coexist across age limits, careers and demograhics. MySpace never really resonated with the parents or the grandparents in the way Facebook does – they got lost in the glare and blare and glitter. Yahoo never really resonated with kids past a certain age the way it resonated with an older demographic. Facebook manages to straddle the line.

The second factor that the article ignores is iteration. Many would choose the over-used term innovation here, but that’s not accurate. There is not a lot in the way of true innovation going on in tech right now. However, the company that can spot trends and iterate fastest across the most demographic touchpoints will win, and for the foreseeable future, like it or not, that company looks like it’s going to be Facebook.  The only way I see Facebook being completely gone by 2020 is if the internet (or the concept of a nextnet, whatever this space becomes over time) is itself gone. As long as we can connect, Facebook has shown a willingness (and budget) to iterate itself into our lives continuously.

Some say marketing will be what kills Facebook over time, but I disagree there also. Facebook has made it quite difficult for the average marketer of the average company to see success on their platform, and that is very intentional. They want to straddle the line of paying the bills and keeping the user enthralled, and you can’t do that as a company if you let marketing run the show (see this piece on GM for one example). Companies that play well in the pool, like Ford, see success, but others struggle, unable to see beyond traditional, limited marketing rhetoric. This ability to force marketing to act on the sidelines and to put the users into the marketing stream via stories is a third thing that will keep Facebook relevant far longer than most expect.

The fourth and final key element to the longevity of Facebook is their New York Yankees style growth plan. If they can make it, they do, and if they can’t make it, they buy it (disclaimer: Red Sox Fan). There is a lot of talent out there toiling away at various startups or under the umbrella of stodgier existing companies that will have plenty of ideas and technologies for sale to keep Facebook strong for years to come. Jut because some pundits think that’s a lazy approach, or some purists think you should create these things for yourself, doesn’t mean that buying talent or tools doesn’t work. So far it seems to be working far better for Facebook than it does for Google, a company who tends to ignore or kill the majority of the cool tech it buys.

How do you come down on this argument? Do think the projections of Facebook’s demise are greatly exaggerated or correct, and why?

 

Shifting into Gear in Adaptive Media

The catch-all term for these platforms we use is social media. I’ve found that term isn’t something some clients can wrap their heads around. I’ve have better success telling them this new focus is on being social, connected, helpful and accessible using adaptive media tools. That helps them make the mental separation between the nuts and bolts (setting up profiles, learning platforms like Twitter, creating basic web presences and integrating into their existing on or offline spheres) and the actual effective use and forward thinking aspects.

Why adaptive media? Because in the end the platforms and applications are just tools, and they are adaptive. They require the user to adapt to a more inclusive set of societal rules, to get back into a communication mode instead of a sales or quota mode, to relearn how to be human even in promotion or business, more. They also adapt constantly, changing almost daily. Some live in a niche (Twitter), some fall out of fashion (MySpace) or lose funding or close for other reasons (TipJoy), some grow exponentially for a while only to begin to fade away (Friendster), some seem to eat the rest of the tools alive (Google), but in the end – they are only tools.

If you call it what it is and work on changing the midset behind the use of the tools, it’s easier to create an atmosphere where you can ride out the volatile nature of the social web and find growth no matter what happens to the tools you use to do it. The social mindset isn’t going anywhere, but it will become a more connected way of living and doing business that will outlast whatever tools you use to do it. Adapt in this age of adaptive media, and don’t trip yourself up by attaching yourself so firmly to one tool you can’t float if it sinks.

April Events, Podcasts and Classes

Uptown Uncorked has a lot going on in the way of lunch and learn sessions, networking events, podcasts and more in April. We want to achieve our goals of connecting people, improving how you use the tools you have and teaching you what you need to know to drive your self or your business to a new level. We will be bringing you more and more real life classes, podcasts and web based classes to help you stay informed and learn new things that will help you succeed.

POSTPONED Continuing the focus on hyper local learning and real time reaching out, we are starting Lunch and Learn sessions on some of the topics we get asked about the most. The first of these is on April 18th at Rick’s Pond View (no walk ins, EventBrite signup or email me if you need to pay cash at the door), and is a class on how to keep your kids safe online. (Hashtag #KIDSAFENH)

Also in the hyper local category is the next Social Media Breakfast NH on April 17th (no walk ins, EventBrite signup only). University of New Hampshire (UNH) has generously offered to sponsor this event. This, the third Social Media Breakfast NH, is all about education and social media. We will have two speakers, and then instead of a third speaker we’ll do an open Q&A that will allow the educators present to pick our brains and learn from us in real time. (Hashtag #SMBNH)

Another upcoming event is the next podcast: Topics on Fire, Episode 15: Inbound/Viral Marketing. That will be on TalkShoe next Sunday 4/19 at 10:00PM EDT. You can follow the call here to get a reminder when it will start sent to your email inbox. (Hashtag #TOF)Last Topics on Fire Episode was on Music and Social Media. Have a listen:

There are more classes in the lunch and learn series coming, and more events planned. Stay tuned as we keep finding ways to share knowledge with you and foster connections.

The Importance of Social Media Landing Pages

As someone who manually reviews each new follower profile to see what they are all about, I can attest to the importance of having a link in your bio. I know I am not the only one who is less likely to follow you back if I can’t see more information about you than a few tweets (And if you protect your updates and are not my social-media-paranoid real life friend, forget it. No follow.).

I use the link in your profile page to make decisions that your existing interaction level can’t answer. Others who are newer to social media use it to decide your trustworthiness and online value, or how interesting you are. Following someone has a bit of a cost to it as far as time – the landing page you link to in your profile let’s new followers know you are worth their time.

Many people panic when I tell them they need a link to a landing page. They don’t want to start a blog or host a web site. They don’t want to sell products online or fuss with a CMS system. They prefer more lightweight interaction online and don’t see the point in committing at that level. You know what? That is totally fine. Even so, you still need a place people can go to see another facet of who you are.

So how do you have a social media landing page if you don’t want to have a blog or web site? That’s easy – cross link to your other social media profiles, or to a social content site or social network instead.

Social content is probably the best way to handle the lack of a dedicated web site or blog. If you have a Flickr account for your photos, a Qik channel for short videos from your phone, or even something like an Utterli profile where you record your old, angst-ridden teen poetry, link to it.

If you don’t generate social content, you should. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s often free. It takes less time than a blog or web site, and it is maintained by someone else. You get a profile page in a very no fuss, no muss manner, meaning that updating feels more like play but is still effective in getting what I like to call “snackable content” out there for the masses to consume, discuss and pass along (with credit and link backs, is the hope).

If you are strictly a social network participant and have no desire (or time, in some cases) to generate any kind of social content, no matter how small, you can still make one of your social network profiles into your landing page. Just tweak the content a bit to make sure it reflects a wider amount of your personality or accomplishments, then link to the profile.

To make a FaceBook profile your landing page, you need to make the permissions on the profile public. That’s a scary thing for some people, and not without risk. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can create a fan page for yourself or your company and link there instead, thus controlling access to your private life.

Just because MySpace has lost its luster recently doesn’t mean it isn’t a great landing page, especially if you are a band/musician. The custom URL feature makes it easy, and you can upload links, content, videos, commentary and more with ease, keeping your content interesting for visitors from other sites, like Twitter.

Don’t overlook some of the lesser known or niche social networks either (iMeem, Strands, MOG, LinkedIn or even sites like FriendFeed). However you choose to get another side of your personality or your company out there, that link in your profile is key to getting more response to your social media activity. Layers are vital. Show yours off.

Tonight’s the Night to Talk About Music and Social Media

Update: The podcast was a blast. Thanks to Joe, Flint, Carla and Matthew for participating and sharing your knowledge of music from all levels and a variety of aspects of the industry. Panelists, please feel free to grab the embed for your blog or profile – just link back here:

Original post: Topics on Fire is on its 14th episode. I’m so happy at the support it receives from people, and pleased when I hear that you all learned something from an episode, or just plain had fun. So far the two most popular episodes have been Part Two of the Gender Gap and Social Media/Technology and the New Year, New You episode.

Tonight we talk about one of my favorite topics, music and social media. I am honored to have long time friend and musician Flint Mavis as one of our panelists. He has one foot in each side of the equation as a MySpace account executive and session guitarist in Los Angeles. He has been heard wailing his axe in several bands over the years. Also joining us is new friend Joe Marrapodi from Get Rare. You all may know Joe best as friend and manager to Pete Yorn, but through Get Rare I had the pleasure to get to know Joe recently before the WERS 60th Anniversary show in Boston. Carla Lynne Hall will also be on our panel. She is a musician and music blogger (Her blog is Rock Star Life Lessons) and someone I connect with frequently on Twitter. A champion of indie music, she has loads of great advice for musicians looking to make their way online. Piano rocker Matthew Ebel will be on as well. He is known for using social media and the internet to book gigs and sell his music direct to his fans. The other panelists will be announced closer to the start time.

I hope to see you all there! It’s on TalkShoe at 10PM Eastern Time tonight, 3/29.

iPhone 3.0 Update Brings Proper Mobile Social Networking Closer

The iPhone’s next update, 3.0, was just unveiled yesterday.  For all of you that don’t own iPhones (which includes me), you might very well be wondering how I can connect the progress of a single phone to the advancement of mobile social networking as a whole.  I’m going to explain, so try to keep up.

Like it or not, the iPhone boasts the best platform and App store for mobile social media and networking.  A couple worthy mentions should go to Google’s G1, and maybe even Samsung for its latest batch of TouchWiz-equipped handsets.  

Working from that assumption, I’d point out that iPhone sales have soared recently, even considering the fact that AT&T, a carrier not known for its shining quality, is the only service that can claim the iPhone.  The mass adoption of the iPhone coupled with the success of the Apps store is making the iPhone the best platform for real mobile social networking to occur.

As I’ve said so many times before, there’s quite a ways to go before we reach true mobile social networking.  But, if you believe as I do that the iPhone will most likely be the platform to boast true mobile social networking, you’ll have to agree that a couple of updates announced yesterday certainly go a good way towards brining true mobile social networking closer.

First up: push notifications.  The iPhone (and iPod Touch) will now automatically receive application updates even if the app in question is not running.  You might be thinking, “Well, gee, why didn’t they already have that?”  A very good question.  

Now that apps can receive updates automatically (that is, without a user having to open each individual application, such as Mail, Twitterfon, Loopt, Facebook, MySpace, etc.), users will be alerted of updates to their different social accounts real-time.  Being aware is a huge tenet of social networking, and having your apps note updates displayed as they come in without having to update each app individually will help users streamline their online social activity.  

Second: maps access inside other apps, and turn-by-turn directions.  I consider both of these to be big steps towards advancing mobile social networking.  Loopt, perhaps the best mobile social networking aggregator app out there, allows users’ locations to be visible to other Loopt users on a map.  What better way to help users connect with each other on-the-go than to provide mapped, turn-by-turn directions to activities or your friends?

Let’s say you’re in the city.  Your friend updates her status on Facebook, raving about this band that’s about to play live in a venue across town from you.  You aren’t familiar with the quickest way to get there, so you open Loopt and use your current location and your friend’s location to generate turn-by-turn, GPS-rendered directions, which get you there before the second opening band comes on.

I can’t say as to whether the Loopt team has any designs on integrating the functionality I just described, but my point is the technology is there, and it is now possible.  Talk about a very real way to bridge your online social presence with your real world social life.  THAT is what mobile social networking is about.  

Third: data tethering.  Yes, that sounds quite lame in comparison to what I’ve detailed above, right?  Though I’m all about having everything you need in the palm of your hand, the fact is we just aren’t there yet.  Failing those advancements, there’s not much better than whipping out your Macbook wherever you are at and doing some surfing or social networking when you’re out of WiFi range.

 If mobile social networking still isn’t quite realized (and I’d say that it certainly isn’t), then why not use your familiar and powerful, computer-based social networking tools wherever you’re at by tethering your iPhone’s data to your laptop?  It’s social networking made mobile, is it not?  A bit cumbersome, but it fits the description.  

There you have it: three updates to the iPhone that will further the cause of mobile social networking.  

P.S. – If you weren’t aware, Loopt isn’t just limited to the iPhone…it’s available on the G1 and Blackberrys, just to name a couple prominent handsets.

So Your Parents Found You Online, Now What?

The moment has arrived that you’ve been dreading. Your dad left a comment on that photo of you in the lamp shade on your FaceBook wall. Your mom made fun of the outfit you wore to that party – the one where you took that picture in the bathroom mirror on your MySpace profile. Or perhaps the alternative happened, and you just added your dad as a contact on LinkedIn and freaked him out by being old enough to be in the real workforce. Maybe that cousin no one talks to anymore is taking revenge for the family snubbing by being a troll in your Flickr account comments. When your family and your social network use collide, what do you do?

I may make light of the problem a bit but it really can be an issue from all sides. Even the most tight-knit families are fraught with history and tensions that never really go away, and have a pile of minor slights that have had time to build up over the years between siblings, cousins, parents and more. One friend has horror stories of her parents airing their grievances from their divorce on her profiles. Another’s mother was upset at the photos she saw of her “baby girl” at a party online and didn’t speak to her for weeks. When these worlds collide it can cause lasting friction if not handled well.

The first thing for all sides to remember is that most social sites give you a way to control who sees what. Use these settings! Don’t be afraid to limit or block a relative (or anyone for that matter) who has trouble with the concept of personal space and privacy. If you want to try laying out what you expect from family members online before resorting to that, that’s fine too, but that may not be enough for those with no concept of how public their comments are making your private history.

The next thing to remember on both sides of the fence is to respect where someone sets their boundaries. If your family member takes the time to say to you “Hey, it makes me uncomfortable when you “friend” people in my life you don’t even know just to keep tabs on me”, or “I use this particular network for work, and I don’t want to tell this group of people this much about my private life, you’re putting me in an awkward position when you comment” then stop doing it, whatever it is, or accept the fact that you may get blocked or limited for your persistence.

When I say learn to use the privacy options on all of your social networks, I mean it. Even Twitter, the most basic of social networks, offers a way to block people. FaceBook offers ways to limit what people can see, group friends and family into types or block people, and it is customizable on a friend by friend basis, which is a nice touch. FriendFeed even allows you ways to block or put people in groups. Whether you get social on a business network like LinkedIn or a fun network like MySpace, take a minute to get private and set boundaries both verbally and virtually. Your relationships with those around you may be the better for it.

What should the offending person do if they get blocked? Nothing. If you get blocked, don’t make a public scene at all. It may come as a shock, but that behavior is what got you blocked in the first place. If you must comment at all, do so privately, and respect the answer you get when or if you are told why the decision was made. After all of that, if you decide to give each other a test run and allow all comments and interaction in the social media arena, here are some tips to possibly avoid a need for blocking or limiting in the first place:

1) Parents: friending your kid’s friends, whether you know them or not, to keep tabs on them is only acceptable when they are a minor and you are looking out for their safety. Once they are an adult, even if you don’t think they act like one, you need to back off and give your kids some space.

2) Kids: know that there are repercussions far beyond your parents being online for some of the things you post to your profile. Not only is your mom looking at your cleavage shots, so is your future boss, future husband (or maybe not, depending on those pics), clients, future kids and everyone who knows how to use Google. That limits the amount of indignation you should feel about comments you get, since you did choose to put that out there into the public domain.

3) Follow the person’s lead. If they were on the network first, look at how they interact, read what they post. If they are reserved, act accordingly and be reserved on their wall! If they are more personal, feel free to loosen up a little bit. If they don’t seem to have time to play games, don’t bombard them with game and application invites, etc.

4) Family secrets are never ok to post. ‘In jokes’ are not the same as secrets – those are often fine. But commentary on past poor judgements, nekkid baby pics, all of that should be left for emails, letters and the family photo album on the coffee table.

5) Keep the internet a no-nagging zone. Nudging, poking and messaging incessantly when your family member does not respond right away is not appreciated. They are probably busy. Relax. It’s the internet – it’s not going anywhere – they’ll get back to you in time.

6) Resist the urge to critique your family members choices. Often a social network profile is simply a sketch of person, not the whole person. If you think they are being inauthentic, tell them offline, not on their wall or comments. You may be surprised to hear the reason behind their holding back a bit of their private self if you open an honest, offline dialogue about. And think of it this way, you may learn something new and cool about that person in the process, just by being considerate.

If you have story to tell about family social media interaction gone wrong (or right – I have found some long lost relatives online and enjoyed getting to know them, myself), please tell us your story in the comments. Do you think I forgot a pointer? Tell us that too!

This post inspired by a Twitter conversation earlier today between myself and @PurpleCar 🙂

Mobile Social Spreading, but Still Stunted

I just got my first iPod Touch, and suffice it to say that I’m officially hooked.  In fact, I’m more than hooked.  In less than 24 hours, I’ve effectively decided that lugging around a Blackberry Curve with the wonderful Touch is too much, and that I need an iPhone.  Leslie called the iPod Touch a gateway drug, and I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, now that I have an Apple Touch device, my first move was to jump on the Apps store and look for all the mobile social networking applications I could find.  I have to say, I was a little disappointed.  There just weren’t the plethora of applications I expected to find.

That isn’t to say I didn’t find some great tools.  First off, the Facebook app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is simply stunning.  It is far superior to its counterpart for Blackberry.  If I wasn’t already a Facebook junkie (and I was), I’m probably a lost cause, as it will now be fused to my hip in waking and sleeping.  

I also found a fantastic Twitter platform called TwitterFon, a FREE app that, in my opinion, bests any offering I’ve seen thus far either for mobile phones or computer platforms.  You’ll probably hear me harping on “free” for quite some time, as I’m sure there are many great mobile apps available for all mobile phones, but it seems some developers feel the need to charge for their creations.  I’m all for paying for apps that are well-developed, but there aren’t any trial opportunities for many apps that could be very good…in that sense, developers lose out because many won’t be willing to pay for something they’re not sure of, and consumers lose out because they’re more apt to stick with free apps than apps that might very well be superior. 

Also, I installed the Yelp! app to my iPod Touch.  Though it’s far from perfect, it’s a nice addition to anyone’s mobile device as it offers great search and localizing functionality for finding activities, restaurants and businesses in your area.  Today I searched for Starbucks, and found one 1.5 miles away; when I clicked “Google Maps” to get directions from my house, Google didn’t know the location existed.  Luckily I already knew where it was.  The point being, it isn’t perfect but it’s better than not having it.

And yet, I still find myself less than enthused with the current plight of mobile social networking.  Why?  Because, dear friends, the mobile social networking world is in serious need of multiple cross-platform social aggregators.  By cross-platform, I mean available with every major cellular carrier in the U.S, and by social aggregator, I mean a platform that ties in most of the best and most popular social networking and media sites like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and others.  Though it’s all well and good to update each application separately, it just isn’t time effective to type out the same message for all your different services. 

I was surprised to find no evidence of a FriendFeed application for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  Though it isn’t my favorite computer-based aggregator, I think it would be a huge hit on mobile platforms. I’m familiar with what is currently the most widely-used aggregator for the iPhone, Blackberry, and other platforms — Loopt — but I find it lacking.

It does seem to be a perfectly fine social locator that integrates Facebook and Twitter, but if that’s it, there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement.  If you can use it, give it a try and see whether it fits your needs.  But it isn’t the be-all end-all to me.  

There are options, and mobile social networking has certainly come a long way from where it was even a couple years ago.  But competition between developers, and more so carriers, has effectively stunted the growth and restricted the adoption of universal mobile social networking.  For now, the best offerings seem to be available on the iPhone and the G1 (T-Mobile), and some of Samsung’s latest phones with the TouchWiz interface have some interesting (albeit limited) social applications.  For now, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the two big platforms, and your best bet is to find an app that suits your needs for each of those platforms.

The Most Under Utilized Social Media Resource: Your Staff

If you aren’t using a social media guide who recommends that you tap into your existing staff for social media impact, you may be with the wrong guide. One of the first things we do for a new client is evaluate their existing resources. Nine times out of ten, they are overlooking their greatest asset in social media: their staff. This has a long lasting negative effect on their prospects in social media, and it also means they are missing out on a great way to encourage employee loyalty and longevity at the company.

One of the benefits of social media as a medium for business communication and the promotion of artists, musicians and more is how cost effective and far reaching it is. Increasing your social leverage leads to a variety of tangible and intangible benefits for any company. It’s easy to see the external benefits, such as increased customer satisfaction, improved customer service, benefits to how your customers and potential customers perceive you, indirect sales, the ability to drive traffic to your web site or to the web sites of your company’s favorite causes or collaborators, corporate growth potential and so much more. It is harder to see that part of the cost efficiency lies in finding ways to use what and who you already have within the company to the fullest.

If you are a firm with a massive staff load in the tens of thousands, or a legal firm, government body or hospital with special privacy concerns, then yes, you should hire one person to handle your social media campaigns. Those scenarios require more focus than the average company. If you have a company with a few thousand employees, a medium or small company, or are an entrepreneur running a micro business, you should start to look at your entire staff as your marketing and social media department.

It is common business practice to monitor or restrict time spent online, to throw road blocks up against social sites like FaceBook, MySpace and even LinkedIn. My question to every company is why limit your business and your employee growth in that way? Blocking your own success at the firewall is not going to get you anywhere. All employees have down time. Everyone gets a little bored at work sometimes, even the busiest CEO or freelancer. Why not tap that down time and boredom? With the proper training and a few simple guidelines worked out with your employees, your legal or management team and your social media consultant, every moment of boredom could be turned into fun for your employees and indirect inbound marketing for you.

Every person has a network. Whether they are talking to their network about plans for the weekend or about you, your company name and link shows up in the work section of every social profile they have. This means that every interaction could be drawing eyeballs to your business. With a little training on how to effectively add in references to your company, to offer assistance appropriate to their position in your company, and other options, you could have your company’s online presence amplified to reach the networks of every employee (and their networks’ networks) in a very short period of time.

With that kind of social leverage at your fingertips, why aren’t you using it?

Could Becoming Social-Media Savvy Really Help the GOP?

A recent article on CNN.com, written by journalist Leslie Sanchez, suggested that Obama”s success in garnering an impressive following of young voters demonstrated that for the GOP to succeed, the party will need to match Team Obama”s savvy use of social media in future elections.  Though John McCain”s team certainly didn”t match the efforts of Obama”s in social media, there is a much more significant reason why McCain and the GOP as a whole won”t succeed in winning over the young vote, which runs to the very core of the party.