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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.