A site by and for social media enthusiasts who might otherwise prefer to blend into the crowd...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Facebook Smartphone?

The Facebook IPO has been a flop according to most major analysists. There is even talk that some investors received word from Morgan Stanley that the numbers were being cut, meaning two sets of numbers were given out. The company also has reported a lack of confidence in some of their ad markets.

How can Facebook turn it around?

One idea floating around is for Facebook to move into the business of producing smart-phones. There have been reports about former tech engineers from Apple moving over to Facebook, discussions with HTC, and sources claiming the company is looking to have a phone by next year.

How would this phone be different from other smart-phones?

Apparently it would be developed around the Facebook site. How that would work in terms of particulars is tough to imagine.

Facebook definitely has to do something. I have heard more reports of people leaving over Timeline than any of the other profile changes the site had made. There have been reports over major companies pulling their advertising over a lack of ROI. The IPO has been a bust.

Facebook still dominates the social media world, but to keep growing, and now to keep their new investors happy, something needs to be done. The phone is an interesting idea, although I could easily see it being ‘too much’ with the Facebook integration. It will be interesting to see how they manage it.

What are your thoughts on the idea of a Facebook phone? How should Facebook turn around this IPO disaster?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Using Social Media the Old Fashioned Way

Before social media began to dominate the marketing scene, people used to have to work much harder to find business contacts and clients. Typically small businesses dealt with those in the local area, and most people had met their business partners in person. People usually did business with those they knew at least to a degree. Today companies find more and more leads online, so does that mean the way business is conducted should change?

I don’t think is has, or that it should. The only thing that has really changed is that suddenly ‘local’ means worldwide instead of within our zip code. The focus of social media should still be developing relationships and then proceeding to business and sales.

I have noticed a lot of companies, especially business to community companies, that seem to use social media as a means of just broadcasting their ideas to the world in the hopes that someone will bite. The audience often seems to pick up on people who just want customers, not relationships, pretty quickly.

Social media is still very new and we are all still learning the best ways to make use of what it offers. Broadcasting messages, though, seem to me as a modern form of telemarketing calls or spam emails. People just ignore them and don’t pay attention to what they have to say.

How to change this?

  • Companies need to identify who their key audience is, and then get involved with the conversation.
  • Don’t aim to accumulate many followers on Twitter just so they can hear your message. Rather, follow many people on Twitter, start conversations with them, and discuss issues relevant to them.
  • If your company offers a product that can help then offer it, but have a relationship in place first.
  • Don't send invitations to connect on LinkedIn with a sales pitch in the first line, first find out what your new connection might need, and then offer a way to help.
  • When people discuss topics on your blogs, LinkedIn pages/groups, or Facebook page, respond and take an interest in what customers are saying.

Use social media to do business the old fashioned way. When you take the time to develop relationships before diving in with a sales pitch, you have more of a chance of developing a life-long customer and a solid reputation. It may take more time, but will pay off better in the long run.

What do you think? How should companies use their social media platforms to their advantage?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who Owns What We Post Online?

After writing Wednesday’s post on some of the issues Google is having overseas defending their practices of collecting data from users and compiling it to ‘offer superior services’, I started really thinking about the issue of personal property and who owns what we post online.

One school of thought says that our personal information, what we like, what we do online, and so on all forms a picture of us. This picture is very valuable to advertisers and the big boys of social media, so therefore it is our property. It is our prerogative to give this knowledge away to Google, Facebook, and others, but it is not their prerogative to take it.

The other school of thought says that when people use social media, they are freely submitting their personal information to the platform. The platform is owned an operated by the company. Therefore, you are freely giving your information to the company, and it belongs to them.

Europe recently passed a law known as the ‘Right to be forgotten’. According to the law, people have the right to monitor what is on the web about them, and can demand information be edited if incorrect or taken down. There are those who claim this runs afoul of freedom of speech laws.
Here is where I see complications arising. Say you are an aspiring teacher. One night in college you and a couple of friends have a bit too much, and you are underage. Someone snaps a photo of you and puts it on Facebook. The date underneath the photo will allow just about anyone to realize you are underage. Many states have very strict ‘no alcohol infraction’ policies for their teachers. You want the picture taken down before you apply for jobs out of fear of a potential employer seeing it. Do you have the right to demand Facebook remove the photo? Does the picture belong to you, to Facebook, or to the person who took it? We all know de-tagging a picture does not make it go away from the internet’s memory.

These personal property and privacy laws are going to have to be hammered out in courts in the coming years. This is just another case of technology being way ahead of the law. In the meantime, what do you think? Who owns this information we are putting out there about ourselves?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Facebook IPO - $38 per share

They did it! Facebook's IPO has sold 421.2 million shares at $38 per share, making the company worth an estimated $104.2 billion, a record for a technology company.

Here is the report at Bloomberg.com.

What do you think about this IPO? With the news about GM pulling their ads, do you think Facebook is going to hold on or struggle to keep shareholders happy?

Fired for Tweeting - Personal Life versus Company Rep

I came across and interesting post about a CFO who was fired for writing a couple of Tweets. Here is one take on MediaBistro.

It appears as though the company is claiming that he revealed company information improperly, although the tweets themselves do not seem particularly incriminating. He does mention the company having ‘good numbers’, though that is pretty broad.

Over the years I have heard of many cases regarding lower level employees complaining about their jobs or their bosses or something similar, though this is the first time I have heard of such a high level person getting the axe for this sort of thing. Each time it occurs, however, it brings back up the issue of personal space and freedom of speech.

Of course, having people complain about a company on any form of social media looks bad for the company. Unlike just complaining to friends or family, social media complaints are permanent and can become viral. Companies also often have their hands tied when it comes to defending themselves – they can’t really get into a he said she said debate on twitter with the administrative assistant. It is perfectly understandable why companies would want to fire people who do this sort of thing, but can they?

They certainly have so far, but the courts are going to have to decide soon once and for all if this constitutes a violation of freedom of speech. If social media is a personal platform, companies can’t really govern what we say on there. Where does being a representative of the company stop and personal life begin? Does it matter who you are in the company? Does it matter the kind of career you are in (ie do we want teachers sending out expletive laden posts about principals on Twitter with their students following – of course not, but can schools do anything about it)?

Social media is truly changing the way we interact with the world. Few things are really considered private any more. Many young people growing up with this technology think nothing of sharing their every thought with the world.

What are your thoughts? How much say can a company have over what employees say on social media?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Google’s Data Mining Causing Continued Concern in Europe

If you have not already heard, Google has a new policy in place in which in consolidates information about users from YouTube, Google+, Gmail, and others and uses that information to filter results and improve services for users. The catch is, however, that users cannot opt out. Many in Europe are concerned that this data compilation is a massive invasion of privacy, and Google has yet to convince them otherwise. There is currently a meeting set up between Google and France’s Commission Nationale de l'Informatique, the committee that overseas data protection, for May 23.

Read the full article HERE

Recently, I addressed the issues of privacy on LinkedIn with my article on Social Media Sun. In many ways what Google is doing is what LinkedIn does on a grand scale. They are taking information available online, such as what we search for, pages we visit, what we do with Google+, and consolidating it to one place for easy reference.

On the other hand, the webpages we view are not public information, the way our alma mater is, or past employers, and that is what makes me uneasy. Some may argue that users are utilizing a Google service, so Google has the right to store the information processed on its server.

The entire issue seems to come down to the question of the permanence of the internet, and all that is done on it. The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ has continued to be a huge issue in the European community as people hammer out what it means to be forgotten on the internet, how that interacts with free speech, and how it can be implemented and under what guidelines.

The legal issues surrounding the internet are going to continue to be debated in the coming years, really the coming decades. But what do you think about Google’s data collection and the ‘Right to be Forgotten’? Who owns what is posted on the internet? How do we regulate ownership and determine if someone can demand something being permanently deleted?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the Class of 2012

Graduation season is upon us. Across the country the class of 2012 is scrambling to study for their last round of finals (at least for this degree). For those preparing to enter the workforce, the trepidation is growing, as according to reports, a large number of graduates have yet to find work. I thought I might compile a list of some tips for upcoming graduates based on my personal experience over the past few years since my own graduation. Add any more you can think of to the comments!

1)      Network, network, network. This you should be doing both on and off line. The expression ‘the most important thing is who you know’ is incredibly true. I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Reach out to everyone you know and let them know you are looking for work and the skills you have. Get involved in social media and meet people that way. You never know who will have the key to your next job.

2)      Clean up your online presence. In the world of social media potential employers are googling candidates with increasing frequency. Even if you are de-tagged in a picture, it is still out there for people to find. Try to track down and erase anything that makes you appear to be a less-than-responsible person, and an undesirable candidate.

3)      Have a wardrobe of professional clothes. It does not matter what profession you are going into, you will need clothes for occasions like interviews, work parties/dinners/lunches/meetings, networking events, and so on. Your jeans and sweatshirt have served you well, but now you need to update.

4)      Learn how to speak grammatically correct. It does not matter if you have a PhD, walking into an interview speaking slang will make you sound unprofessional, unprepared, and unable to handle the corporate world. If you did not have much practice before, start reading. I am not referring to reading Yahoo news and Sports Illustrated, I mean classic literature, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist. Read slowly and carefully, taking note of new vocabulary. Yes, it may seem like English class all over again, but trust me, the improvement in your speaking and writing skills will benefit you tremendously in the long run.

5)      Budget wisely. Even if you are fortunate to be graduating without an enormous student debt, suddenly being 100% responsible for your own housing, food, utilities (no university housing/cafeteria anymore), and transportation can be a bit of a slap in the face. Think about what you really need and don’t need. Cable? Smart phone with data plan? Car (if there is mass transportation)? Should you get roommates? While you are at it, learn to cook. It will save you money and save your waistline.

Good luck to the class of 2012. The past several years have not been kind to graduates, but here’s to hoping it will turn around one of these years…