Posts Tagged: media

Do You Know Who Is Watching?

A continual point I try to drive home to clients is the importance of monitoring your presence on and off line. It doesn’t floor me when a new client reveals they have never monitored their online or offline presence – that’s to be expected, and part of why they seek help. Often it’s just a case of not knowing how to get started and how to strategize and maintain a monitoring plan.

It continues to amaze me how many fly by night pseudo “gurus” of social media don’t monitor who is keeping an eye on what shenanigans they are doing online, however. There are so many people trying to jump on board the bandwagon of social media now that it is reaching mainstream proportions, and they are willing to do anything shady to get client attention. I’ve covered a few tips on avoiding scam artists and bad strategy in previous posts, including one on avoiding “twinfomercials“, one on “stunts vs experiments” on Twitter, a post about false metrics distracting your from your goals in social media, and many more.

I didn’t blog last week. I was wrapped up in several large and exciting things – the launch of the Twitter for Dummies book I wrote with Laura Fitton and Michael Gruen, a television interview about it, new clients (including new film Crooked Lane, a radio interview on LifeTips and more. Just because I’m not blogging on occasion doesn’t mean I’m not listening. I monitor my business and my clients daily. This means that I see scammers in real time, if someone is trying to pull a fast one (it also means I see good things too, but this post is about the issues surrounding fly-by-night hustlers).

It is not uncommon to see people scraping my content from one of my many blogs and calling it their own, to see people creating false RTs on Twitter crediting me and other social media types with things we never said, or to see people trying to pawn off something I said in a presentation as an original idea of their own. I handle all of this on a case-by-case basis. Last week unearthed a variety of interesting and annoying things surrounding the book, however. My personal favorite was the woman with a horribly designed Blogspot blog who is “teaching” a “Twitter for Dummies” class and sending people to Amazon to buy the book with the implication that she wrote it. She was very surprised I commented in a very tongue in cheek manner before the ink was even dry on her post. That’s the value of monitoring – being able to nip issues in the bud quickly.

The point I’m getting at is that you should use reverse monitoring to check out your social media consultant. There is some fantastic advice on this in a post over here (Caveat Emptor). I recommend checking out the “guru”‘s social media presence. Look at Twitterholic to see how long they have been on Twitter (it should be at least since Twitter was in early stages in 2006 – 2007) and what their activity looks like (should be an ever increasing stream of activity and follower/following interaction). Check them out on Google and see how many of their other social media profiles come up, and then go to their pages to see how they interact – are they a link farm? A spammer? Or do they really converse back and forth with people and offer good information and help. Look at their offline activity – do they do more than attend the party-style events? Do they run events to help businesses? Speak? Teach classes? Remember, monitoring works both ways, and you can ensure you are getting a good consultant or presenter if you do a little bit of legwork first!

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.

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.

Facebook Ties up Loose Contractual Ends and Everyone Cries Foul…Why?

Today the blogosphere is all a’tizzy about Facebook’s move to claim all rights, past and present, to user-uploaded content.  And perhaps the reaction is justified; didn’t we already deal with Facebook on the privacy front just a short while ago with the whole invasive advertising debacle?  

If you haven’t heard, Facebook updated its terms-of-service so that all user-generated content, be they photos, videos, links or annoying graffiti art, essentially belong to Facebook, not the creators.  Certainly, in theory it sounds ominous and invasive.  But at the nuts and bolts, it really isn’t in much different from the norm, whether we’re talking Facebook or any other social media or networking site.  

Aaron Brazell over at Technosailer.com concedes, “This is fundamentally not all that out of sorts from what most services do when licensing user content,” but then goes on to state that he’ll be advising others to abstain from uploading content to Facebook, perhaps only excluding links.  That sort of play-it-safe attitude might suffice, but it seems counterintuitive to the ideals and goals that many of us in the social media world share.  

The real question I think we should take time to answer before storming the castle with pitchforks and torches is this:  what does it change?  If Facebook is just now putting to paper what has been largely accepted by everyone until now, what’s all the hulabaloo for?  

Let’s say that Facebook used user content in the past without having the express rights written into the terms of service (which I’m sure has happened).  If the user in question wanted to fight it, they could take it to litigation, and they’d certainly have a case.  But I haven’t heard much from upset users bemoaning abuse of their content.  And the only reason we’re hearing anything now is because it seems like a huge privacy issue, when in fact it isn’t. 

Facebook is nailing up a loose end that could have been the source of endless grief, and one that could have been exploited by a savvy user looking to make a buck off the social networking behemoth.  Twitter user @Nazgul makes a very good point in saying, “Just wonder if wasn’t issue of ‘How do we keep from having to pull an ad just because it shows screenshot of a deleted user.'”  I would add, how do we keep from getting sued when the odd situation arises in which a user objects to having his or her content used?  Express terms in contracts save a lot of time and money.

The way I see it, if you want to use Facebook, you need to know up front that Facebook could use your content.  But I’d venture a guess that most folks aren’t reading the terms of service as it is.  It’s only the social media and internet privacy people sounding the warning siren.  

And while it’s our responsibility to make it unequivocally clear what will and won’t fly to the less-than-visionary Zuckerberg, I don’t think this is one of those battles that needs to be fought.  Furthermore, what kind of job would we be doing by discouraging people from uploading their content to Facebook?  Are we really saying, “Yes, Facebook is the biggest and most-used social network, and you should definitely participate in the interests of advancing social media and your own brand/image…but scrapbook your photos and have get-togethers in your homes to share your video content instead of uploading it.”  

We talk about clouding and cross-network integration, and how amazing it could be if we just got the support of the general public behind it.  I use my Blackberry to update my favorite social networks all at once, and  I’m not going to stop doing so simply because Facebook did what any good business would do and put pen to paper to protect itself.  And I certainly won’t be advising anyone to hole up in a bunker socially just because Facebook’s looking out for numero uno.

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.

Not-So-Mobile Social Media

Here’s a little secret from me to you regarding mobile social media and networking: if it is too frustrating or time consuming for people to access social content from handheld devices, they will simply stop trying.

I’m a Blackberry user.  You might even say that I am a Crackberry addict.  I won’t say it, because that means I have admitted that I have a problem, and experts tell me such admittance must preclude a recovery of some sort.   But for better or worse, you might say my life revolves around the shiny little Blackberry Curve Sunset that never escapes my person.

Mobile Social Media Makes it Big in ’09

Though I’ve said almost incessantly that social media will, in the very near future, start migrating as a whole to mobile devices, it is always nice to see a little evidence to back that theory up.  iSuppli, an analyst group focused on interpreting trends in electronics, claims that the massive adoption of smartphones and internet-friendly handsets in 2009 will force businesses to radically revamp their business models to address the new mobile social phenomenon.  With many social business startups gaining support in the mobile platform arena, iSuppli estimates that the scope of this shift to mobile social media could surpass the current impact of the technology, media and telecommunication industries, which currently control approximately 5% of the gross global domestic product (estimated at $3 trillion dollars). 

Information Week claims that the adoption of smartphones like the iPhone is the catalyst for the market’s shift towards mobile-based social platforms.  I agree with that opinion whole-heartedly, but there are a few very large roadblocks standing in the way of widespread adoption of social mobile platforms.

First, many consumers just aren’t ready to spend money on data transfer plans with mobile carriers because either the handsets that properly execute internet are too pricy, or the plan rates are outrageously priced.  The U.S. carrier market is preying on consumers; while other countries have high-speed networks and advanced handsets available at competitive rates, the U.S. market is exploiting customers while the getting is good.  For the U.S. market to truly adopt mobile social media, plans and handset prices will need to become truly competitive — what a novel concept!

Second, handsets will need to be powerful enough to operate mobile social platforms full-time without putting a huge strain on battery life, system performance or any other aspect of mobile communication.  Apple isn’t allowing mobile social platforms to run constantly in the background on the iPhone for fear of system slowdown and drained battery life.  Though that is a legitimate concern, by not allowing social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to run as background processes, the iPhone (which is the most popular touchscreen handset on the market) is stunting the growth of mobile social media.  If the industry is truly going in the direction iSuppli predicts, Apple and other manufacturers will have to bulk up their handsets to compensate for the shift towards proper mobile social networking.  

iSuppli also estimates that the cost of basic mobile social packages will be an average of $15.30 monthly.  I have to say that I disagree with this analysis, and here’s why:  the entire point of social networking is to share and communicate with friends, family and new people.  Sharing, by definition, implies no cost.  Do you think social networking and media would have become so successful if there were monthly price tags on every platform?  That obviously won’t stop carriers from attempting to tag social packages with price tags.  However, you can bet that people will choose to pay standard data rates and use free social platforms instead of opting into any carrier-exclusive for-pay mobile platform.  If carriers can’t see that simple fact now, they’re wasting time by building or purchasing mobile social platforms they intend to charge users for.  

It is likely that, like many other things in the mobile world, the U.S. will be stuck quite a few large steps behind other markets, simply because carriers aren’t willing to sacrifice a few pennies in the name of progress.  Though other markets might see a drastic shift towards mobile social networking by next year, our nickel-and-diming U.S. carriers probably won’t have any problem shooting up the party here.