...the blog that goes with everything. Your daily source for a hilarious take on social media, marketing, ketchup, Michigan and pretty much whatever else I feel like.
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In the preview for the not so critically acclaimed upcoming season of Jersey Shore, star Snooki, commented “I don’t go tanning-tanning anymore because Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning…He did that because of us.”
This comment probably would have lived and died in the minds of millennials for a matter of nanoseconds had John McCain (or some hipper member of his comms team) not seized the opportunity... (456-ish days late and a pair of tanning bed goggles short.)
Today's sign that people are circling the wagons on Facebook and their privacy settings....
A graphic from the New York Times showing Facebook's 50 privacy settings and 170+ options. In the wake of Facebook's roll out of it's Open Graph API and associated complaints about privacy concerns, the company called a privacy all-hands meeting (announced yesterday) and changes are expected.
I predict dramatically simplified privacy setting options and clear, and easy opt-outs for third party sites to quell the backlash that's quickly growing (i.e. consumer protest with efforts like Quit Facebook Day.)
Brands talk a lot about integrating social into their Web site. Unfortunately more often than not it seems this inspiration results in simply the addition of sharing functionality and potentially Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons linking out to other social channels. True social functionality facilitates content sharing and conversation - which transforms a brand website from a cathedral you can walk away from to a dynamic space requiring regular maintenance. Many brands aren't there yet, and may never be in some cases.
That being said, it's nice to see brands like Levi's leaning forward - in late April they launched their Friend's Store as an integrated part of their home page online shopping experience. When you arrive at the Levi's home page you can use Facebook Connect to tap into your friend's Likes and opinions on their styles. Likes, of course, appear in your stream, creating the oh-so important generational spread of your activity/WOM.
Like other friend-based social features (i.e. Twitter, FourSquare) I see Facebook Connect being as powerful as your network. If you have hundreds of social friends using Facebook Connect you are immediately going to realize the value of brands using Facebook Connect - if your network is more inactive, these changes won't impact you or your web experience and you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.
Facebook's hurdle will be rolling out these partnerships and Connect opportunities in a way that feels safe and secure to users. I Tweeted yesterday that I was tightening up my Facebook privacy settings and 4 people immediately tweeted that they were doing the same. Recent incidents, like the Yelp debacle, leave even the early adopters a little skittish on the true benefits of connecting their network to third party sites. I'm banking on Facebook clearing the hurdle, and consumers following suit.
EDIT - Literally minutes after posting this I saw on Twitter that Facebook has called an all-hands privacy meeting today to discuss their strategy on this topic... stay tuned.
PS - Hey Jason Falls, how those 501's fitting?
When I went to college in 1999 my @wellesley.edu was the first email address I ever had. In contrast, two years ago Boston College stopped offering @bc.edu email addresses and made them simply a forwarding addresses to student's existing personal email accounts. In other news from the wow-has-technology-changed-college-file, Colgate University has launched this mashup with yearbook style info of their graduating class and their plans for the future. 8 of the students have added video on their year end thoughts on their college experience.
I found the actual interface and student info to be pretty bland - but as Mashable points out the concept is totally dynamic and you can easily see a more robust version of this catching on for face books (the old kind), yearbooks, alumi groups, and other student organizations. The ability to customize your info with multimedia and content, or even link to specific content on your existing social channels would make this an particularly easy lift - essentially filtering pieces of your social life to represent you in a designated group. Easy to see how this concept can be broken out and applied more broadly.
One of the best sessions at the #140 Conference yesterday was by David Carr @carr2n, a brilliant writer and blogger for The New York Times. In 10 minutes he gave one of the funniest, most spot on presentations I've seen on "why Twitter will endure." I do it barely any justice...
Nevertheless, I followed the trend from a business perspective. I saw some value in Yelp's rendition given the number of people already using their app and their review based premise. As conference season took off I began to re-examine FourSquare. Intel was one of the first brands to partner with the company for an onsite activation and used the service to promote their presence at CES. At SXSW Foursquare was all the rage and helped people keep track of each other in the nerd herd chaos. Couple that with brand's like Starbucks usage of the tool and the constant barrage of geo-targeted social networking headlines, and it was clear that the trend isn't going anywhere. In fact, geo-targeted social networks are obviously the next big thing - and are closing the gap between social and consumer action/purchase in a very real way.
So, I got hip to the game. And approached FourSquare with the same Mack Collier-esque strategy that got me turned onto Twitter almost two years ago to the day.
1) Create Your Own Experience. Make sure you are following the RIGHT people - people you care about. For Twitter this was a large social media crew, for FourSquare it's a more intimate group of people I actually know city to city. Knowing what my friends are up to is actually interesting, and with status updates, amusing.
2) Try Hard. You get back what you put in - so just passively signing up isn't enough. I started checking in multiple times a day and low and behold I started to see some value. Last week I saw that @DougMeacham and I were both in New York. Doug and I hadn't seen each other since SXSW 2009 and we were able to hook up for drinks and dinner thanks to me actually using FourSquare.
3) Learn from Others. Ask how others are using the platform, you might be surprised what you find! I'm searching for "deals" in DC that you can get through FourSquare and am continuing to track how brands are using a platform that I'm invested in.
All this goes to show - you have to use social media to "get it." You can't sit on the sidelines passively reading about social media, or attend a 2 hour training and count on it unlocking the secrets (or the badge - haha.) You have to be proactive, even when you think it's not immediately applicable to you. Lesson learned.
Snowmageddon. Snowpocolypse. Kaiser Snowze. The 2009/2010 winter season in DC has gone by a lot of names. One of the most notable side stories in my (social media crazed) mind is the role that social media (or should I say snowcial media?) has played in everything from storm tracking, to commiserating, to clean up efforts. Particularly noteworthy is the way "traditional" players got in on the action.
A blog at its core, the Weather Gang blog became my go-to for all things weather related. They give insightful, accurate forecasts with a personality, and take advantage of the rest of the social Web (Twitter, Facebook) to promote the site, its content, and its conversations. What's great is that this is run by the Washington Post - it's great to see such integrated use of social media across a traditional media site.
Washington, DC Department of Transportation
Despite apparently having like three plows to service the entire city, DDOT DC has taken a proactive role in communicating its snow removal plans to the community. A Twitter handle DDOTDC is collecting reports of unplowed streets and sending them to the Snow Command Center (which is probably in Cheney's secret bunker...) - so while huge swaths of the city remain unserviced, there is a sense that someone is out there listening. Notably, DDOTDC is even going one step further that listening and has launched Snow Map DC which allows you to type in your address/crossstreet/block and see what service its received and what the current road conditions are.
(Personal side note - all those dots don't necessarily translate to clear streets, as they would commonly be defined. Here is Wisconsin Ave between M and K Street last night - doth those green flags lie??)
Of course Twitter and Facebook also played pivotal roles in keeping the DC community together. Twitter did what it does best and became a real time focal point for discussion - hashtags, twit pics, and live updates dominated in the days leading up and during the storm. Facebook played to its community organizing strengths - The Official Dupont Circle Snowball Fight group has over 6,000 fans - 2,000+ of whom showed up for the actual event last weekend.
I've written this post in the past tense - which is ironic, seeing as how we're about to get another 10 - 16" tonight and tomorrow... snowcial media may have more gas left in the tank. Stay tuned!
I was fortunate enough to spend the last few days at WPP's annual Stream Conference - which brings together some of the brightest minds from around the network in an unconference format to discuss the what's next in digital and technology communications.
Some of the best sessions I attended were the ones organized around lists - be it potential "truths" presented for discussion, or co-created outputs. One such session was The Myth of the Viral presented by YouTube.
“Viral success happens, but it doesn’t just ‘happen’”.
Myth 1: I don’t have to promote it
The most successful videos are rooted in smart creative and promotion. Videos need a robust syndication and promotion plan that incorporates elements such as video ads, brand integration on .coms, influencer outreach, and social networking plays.
I think this is the most frequently overlooked aspect of video - today YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the US, so the Field of Dreams approach to posting your content is definitely not enough. Any time you want scale in social (and who doesn't?!), a promotion plan - often rooted in paid media - is a must.
Myth 2: I can just put a video on YouTube and users will find it
Naming, tagging, and engaging content people spend time with all help you index on YouTube. To stand out you have to understand search terms that people use, and search optimize against those words.
Search is IT - for video and anything a brand puts on the web - 80% of web sessions start at a search engine, and 91% of Internet users search daily. Search intent modeling is now essential to everything from SEM/SEO to messaging to consumer behavior research to tagging.
Myth 3: Consumers don’t like branded content
Branding is ok if it’s tasteful and appropriate to the content – stripping the brand out, or having all UGC content is not necessary. Examples: Samsung Omnia i900 Unboxing, riffing on the unboxing video trend (3MM views), or my favorite Smirnoff Raw Tea Partay (5MM views).
Consumers are accustomed to contextually appropriate branding - as long as your adding value (humor, knowledge, exclusivity...) you can "get away" with branding that delivers on your messaging in a subtle way.
Myth 4: It’s not just about one video
Come up with ideas that people can replicate easily, so that viewers feel empowered to create additional content in response to the original piece. If you’re smart, you can build an ecosystem around your content.
This was a really smart point - think of things like the Cadbury Gorilla, which spawned so many spinoffs that Cadbury at one point set up a shadow site to house them. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Myth 5: Being in control is a good thing
Take advantage of your accidental spokespeople who are creating content without the brands “permissions." For example, McDonald’s has leveraged a UGC McNuggets rap in advertising, and UK’s Cillit took advantage of a popular UGC techno remix of one of their commercials. Another common YouTube fear is the inane comments that are often left on videos, the discussion group felt that brands need to have tolerance for the YouTube community and the good/bad comments – and be confident that silly or unnecessarily disparaging remarks are often shouted down.
Ahhhh, control! The age old question. One of the best arguments against leaving your head in the sand is that, in many cases, consumers are *already* appropriating your brand in some way. Listening to the conversation gives you more control and a platform to start a dialogue that could be leveraged proactively or reactively in the future. One of the best examples of nimbly reacting to video content was how Chris Brown and Sony responded to the JK Wedding Dance video, in which a couple danced down the aisle to Brown's "Forever." Instead of wigging out, Sony Music used ContentID to claim the audio content and opted to put music purchase buttons next to the video and use YouTube insights to examine a new demographic and "come up with new distribution, sales and marketing ideas." Sales of the song jumped from 3,000 to 50,000 in one week in July.