Conventional Media vs. Social Media

It’s pretty crazy to think that social media is taking over the world.

It is; whether we like it or not. It is forcing many other means of advertising and marketing out of the industry standard. Many years ago, radio and television advertising was the king of marketing. Today, it still holds its own but it is being beaten to death by the mighty stick of social media.

I was recently out of the office the other day and was conversing with a gentleman about his large disagreement with social media. Besides calling the fool a complete a total dope inside of my head, I thought to myself how much money that this guy could potentially be losing. A friend of mine wrote a blog disagreeing with how older people are not savvy enough to use social media. I agree with this, but at the same time, this gentleman just proved both of us wrong.

He was telling me how he has used radio “since it came out” (doubtful) and how every year he has seen an increase in sales. Maybe it’s just a great product? For confidentiality reasons I can’t tell you the product but it’s been around for a really long time and they refuse to use social media. It might be a timeless item, but at the same time, get with the times and get online!

I tried to convince him that it will only help his business that much more and that less and less people are listening to radio – or at least commercials. Every time a commercial comes on the radio, I hit the next station. Actually, I just bought XM radio for my dad so that we can avoid commercials totally. I digress; I tried to politely explain to the gentleman that if done properly, social media will increase sales of his product. I asked him a sort of dare-delish question and said, “You’re sales might still be increasing, but are they slowing?” To his surprise, he was taken back but answer, “Yes, how did you know.”

Needless to say, from that point on, I won and yet again gave conventional media a huge beat down.

The Rise of “Fake” Viral Videos

Every marketing department or digital marketing agency dreams of hitting it big with a viral video that is not only popular, but also benefits their brand in some way. There’s nothing wrong with a branded viral video. Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: “Uncle Drew” is one example of a branded video done right; it takes a genuinely entertaining concept – NBA player Kyrie Irving dresses up like an old man and plays in a pickup game in New Jersey – and dabbles in a minimal amount of product placement (there are a couple shots of onlookers, probably placed there by Pepsi, drinking Pepsi MAX). Unfortunately, many brands are attempting to hide their involvement in viral videos by making it seem like the video was created by ordinary individuals.

You may be surprised about the amount of brands that have tried to “fake” a viral video. Are You My Man in the Jacket? is an infamous example. In the video, a woman pretends that she met a guy at a café who left his jacket behind. Now she wants to track down that man and give him back his jacket, which she praises in great detail. According to Australian newspaper The Age, both the actress and members of the creative agency involved in creating the video for an Australian retail company first denied claims that the event was fabricated.

Digital marketers are tip-toeing a fine line between creative and deceptive advertising. Television, radio and print advertising have very clear rules and regulations about what constitutes deceptive advertising, but the online space is less regulated. For example, Nissan’s TV commercial that showcases its Frontier truck “ski” down a mountain has disclaimer text that reads “Fantasy. Trucks do not snowboard. Do not attempt.”  No matter how absurd a video might seem to you (take Kobe Bryant jumping over an Aston Martin to promote his new Hyperdunk shoes), there are bound to be people who are fooled.

According to the New York Times, Thinkmodo, a viral social media marketing company that created an unbranded YouTube account and uploaded a fake viral video about hacking into video screens in Times Square to promote the movie Limitless, will “tip off editors of target Web sites, buy keywords and Web site addresses and use social media to get the word out without being obvious.” Michael Krivicka, one of the founders, says, “It has to be finessed in a certain way.”

I don’t know about you, but that is exactly the type of behavior that should not be tolerated in digital advertising. I get it – it’s creative and generates an enormous amount of buzz – but the last time I checked, marketers are not supposed to falsify information and situations, or play your audience as suckers. My friends and I tried the Diet Coke + Mentos experiment in high school after watching that video. Imagine if the guys who made it revealed tomorrow that they were paid by Coke, or Mentos, or a digital agency, to star in it.

Digital marketers need to own their creations. The internet may be a cynical and skeptical place, but it can be very receptive to branded video campaigns (see Old Spice). Their strategy around creating viral video buzz should not revolve around deceiving viewers.

Digital Playground: Social Networking for Kids

There’s been an on-going issue with whether or not to let children on social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. Of course the reasons why someone wouldn’t let their kids on these site are a given and whether we like it or not kids are illegally signing up for and logging into these “grown up” social media sites.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents websites from gathering any personal information from kids who are under the age 13 without their parents’ permission. But, what if there were social networking sites just for young kids?

Now there is a Facebook-like networking site called Togetherville. Parents are able to sign their children up for this site through their own Facebook accounts and select friends for them by searching for kids, friends and family members just as they would search for people on their own accounts. Another site called What’s is an extremely secure site for kids that prompts parents to sign them up by using credit card information and three pictures taken with a webcam of their child for the sites records.

Another fun and safe social network that kids are able to use is ScuttlePad. To sign onto this site kids must enter in their favorite color, birthday, first name and their parent’s email address. The parents then must approve it via email before the child can have any access to the site. Only first names are used on this site and all pictures submitted by kids are manually approved by ScuttlePad. Two other sites kids can safely use are giantHello and Skid-e Kids, try ‘em out for your pre-teen.

These sites are much more age-appropriate and safe for young children then letting them be exposed to the adult-related content and pictures posted daily on Facebook and other social networks.

From Farmville to Social Network

Internet gaming has held a long-reigning popularity since the beginning of the Internet itself. Web-users have always looked to the computer to pass time and to play opponents in all kinds of fun ways from puzzles, to word games, to action-battling games and even virtual board games.  What we now see though is a turn from just online gaming to social media gaming.

The ever popular online gaming company, Zynga, has more than 250 million users on Facebook alone. This company develops browser-based games that work both on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Google + and even just as application widgets on mobile devices.  Games like Farmville and Words with Friends are as accessible as social media sites themselves and allow you to actually interact with your friends and chat with them while playing.  Now, we see this company expanding in an attempt to change the online-gaming world.

“Zynga with Friends,” a new social network for gamers was released by Zynga Inc. on Tuesday.  Game players can now make profiles and chat with other users either on mobile devices or on desktop computers. According to senior Zynga executive, Manuel Bronstein, it is “one network, one unified experience, and one social lobby that will for the first time connect all of our players, no matter what they’re playing.”

Bronstein says that the features and services are designed for bringing more people to play together.  Facebook’s reach of 1 billion users has definitely helped Zynga’s games gain popularity but the company is hoping to seek independence in order to grow since Facebook’s expansion has been slowing down.

As this company gains its independence, it is probable that we will see an increase in social media gaming competitors. This site will certainly be achieving the popularity it intended to receive by allowing us to meet new people and communicate with our old friends while playing the games we love.




Social Media: A Fatal Distraction

It’s normal for many of us to have numerous emails a day that we need to check constantly, especially if we work in an office or for a business that requires us to be glued to our Gmail or Yahoo accounts 40 hours or more a week. But, how many of us are distracted from our work by social media sites?

I’ve noticed how many people are signed onto these social media networks each day by how many posts my friends are commenting on or posting and by how much my newsfeed is constantly being updated. And I obviously notice that this is going on because I too find myself being distracted by sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on a daily basis.

Not saying that these people aren’t getting done or are on these sites all day long, but it’s very common these days to walk by a co-workers desk to see them looking at a funny picture or a friends post on one of these sites. Roughly 60% of wasted-time at work now involves being sucked in to the digital world of social media in one way or another.

Even by just navigating through the multiple tabs and or open windows is a major distraction. Infact, in a survey taken with more than 500 employees of U.S businesses of various sizes, concluded that a company with over 1,000 employees can waste more than $10 million every year due to these digital distractions.

We are living in the digital and social world and because of that I doubt that the use of these sites, along with checking personal emails and text messages, will ever fully be banned from businesses. Even if banned, I don’t think employers will be able to completely control the use (or lack thereof) of these online networks.

Pictures Trump Words in Our Visual Society

A picture is worth a thousand words and so much more.  Our society has grown to be such a visual culture that photo sharing has become our way of communicating.  Camera phones have made capturing unexpected memories easier over the years but now we have a way our actually sending those photos out to tell your friends and family stories: social media.

No matter where you are, you can always check and update your social media sites thanks to our improved technologies of laptops, tablets and smart phones.  While the quality of these devices increases, so does amount of content that people put on their sites as well as the competition between different social sites such as Facebook and Google.  These social networks look for new ways to make their sites more unique and easier to use than the other.

Now, when we look at our Facebook accounts, much of what we see is pictures rather than statuses.  Our friends post pictures as a way of telling us where they are and who they are with.  That friend can tag the location and other people in the photo as a way of attaching quick information rather than a long explanation of the picture.  It seems that picture posting is snowballing as our society has become so visually based. Pinterest shows the evidence in this.

Pinterest is a social media site that has grown to be one of the top rated and used sites in the world.  This site features pictures to tell about new products, home décor, travel and fashion, rather than detailed wordy descriptions.  It features these photos in a classy way and as studies show that consumers are more likely to shop on Pinterest than Facebook, it is obvious that a picture is all we need to sell us.

Facebook and Google + have both recently updated their layouts to include larger photos or ‘cover photos’ which allows its’ users to select a picture that they think would best represent their social networking page.  Looking at pictures is obviously a lot quicker and easier than reading; however, everyone sees things differently.  This poses the question: how can we be sure that our pictures will mean the correct thousand words to everyone who sees them?


New 3D Mapping Technology Comes at a Price: Your Privacy

Imagine laying out in the privacy of your own backyard while airplanes are overhead, secretly filming you.

Well, no need to imagine.  Google and Apple have employed “hi-tech mapping airplanes” fashioned with military-grade cameras to produce aerial images of towns, cities, and your own home.  According to the Daily Mail, these high tech cameras will be able to film through windows and anywhere else on any type of property for the sake of new and improved virtual maps.

How is this any different from Google Earth, you might ask?

Unlike Google Earth, which utilizes satellite imaging, these privacy-infringing cameras are said to be similar to those used by the military.   They can be installed onto airplanes, helicopters, and drones.  The photographs can be taken at a height of 1,600 ft., and are capable of photographing objects that are merely just four inches wide.  Additionally, these “spy planes” allow for high quality and detailed imaging of…anything.

“Google has admitted to having sent planes over cities, while Apple has acquired a firm using spy-in-the-sky technology that has been tested on at least 20 locations, including London.”

We seem to think 3D maps are cool and convenient, right?  We can see our own house, our neighbor’s house, even a town on the other side of the globe.  We can virtually visit any country on the planet without ever having touched feet to ground.  If we drive into uncharted territory, we can just whip out our iPhones and open a map app.  The world has become smaller with social media marketing sites like Facebook bringing different cultures together without ever having to meet.

Like any new technology, the good is sometimes outweighed by the bad. At what cost will these aerial spies come?  Will we forfeit our own physical privacy with the adaptation of these spy planes?  What do you think?

ICANN and General Top Level Domains: A Primer

ICANN and the grab for General Top Level Domains have been in the news for months now, but the lingo may be hard to follow for some. Here’s a quick overview for those of you who are have not been following the story closely.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is nonprofit organization that has legal authority to coordinate and oversee many different internet functions including Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and General Top Level Domains (gTLDs). gTLDs are the part of a URL that comes after the period (.com, .org, .gov, etc). In the past gTLDs were limited to just over twenty predetermined words. However, ICANN has decided to open up the registration of other gTLDs through an application process that costs $185,000 per domain. The application period closed May 30 and there have been around 2,000 submissions.

Online marketing firms will love getting creative with gTLDs and many large companies and brands have been bidding for words. Organizations with trademarked domains, like Google, will have the right to claim their own gTLD (.google) without having to worry about competing bids. However, non-trademarked gTLDs are fair game for everyone. In a recent blog post, Google revealed that they were also going after .lol and .docs. Many people believe there will be a huge rush to obtain gTLDs of commonly used words like .cars, .hotels, .games, etc.

On Wednesday, June 13th, ICANN will release who has submitted an application and which domains they are requesting. Due to the prohibitive cost of the application, there will not be a massive shift in URLs in the near future. However, you may begin to see large organizations make the switch soon.

Supporters argue that opening gTLDs will diversify the crowded domain naming space, while opponents argue that it will only be beneficial for organizations with deep pockets and domain name registrars like GoDaddy. Don’t worry, though – for the common internet user, the only thing that changes is the string of words you type into your address bar.

Facebook Wins, Google Loses; Apple Always Wins

Sorry Google; you just got ousted!

If you haven’t heard already, Apple has relieved Google of their duties as the primary map provider for IOS. It’s about time! The Google Map app was great for finding addresses and such and knowing your own location. However, there was no turn by turn navigation! Regardless of whether or not my car has navigation, I would like to know that my phone has the capability of doing so just in case my friend drives, for example. Call me a worry-wart, but it’s something worth worrying about. So, Google lost in that respect.

Facebook on the other hand, scored BIG TIME. Much like when Twitter was integrated into the IOS platform, Facebook will now be doing the same. Users will be able to post directly to the wall, import friend information into their contacts, import events from Facebook into your calendar, or ask Siri to post for you. It is kind of ridiculous the amount of stuff that the new IOS will offer, but for Facebook we can call it an epic win.

For the social media marketing world as a whole, this Facebook iPhone integration is huge. If you have an iPhone, it will almost be essential to have Facebook as it is a major part of the device as a whole. The amount of people on Facebook will grow, even though it constantly does. For us community managers, it is important that we embrace these new users with valuable content on our clients’ pages for them to find and “Like.”

In the end, any Apple advancement benefits not only Apple but everything it comes into contact with. It makes life easier, more accessible, and even more fun and social. It is important that people take part in their social media activities and with Apple, it is becoming easier and easier.

Your thoughts?

Facebook has Taken Over the World

We know that it’s rare to come across a person who doesn’t have some sort of social media account. A social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza has even said that if Facebook was a virus, nearly the whole world would have succumbed to it already. And he’s not wrong.

Cosenza analyzed 137 countries to see how many people are on Facebook and put together a world map of social networks that shows just what the most popular social network is, as a result of a combination of Alexa and Google Trends for Websites Traffic data. According to this data, Facebook is in 126 of the 137 countries that were taken into account.

Surprisingly, America wasn’t the country that showed to have the most users on Facebook, but rather it was Europe that came out on top with 232 million users compared to North America’s 222 million users. According to research performed on comScore, America’s unique Facebook visitors only increased by 5% from April 2011 to April 2012, which lists Facebook as the lowest U.S growth rate. This data also lets us see that 71% of the 221 million U.S Internet users are on Facebook.

Of course other social media networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, QZone and Zing still remain in full effect by millions of users in the U.S and other countries. Twitter, for example is the second most popular site in countries such as the U.S, Sweden and the U.K and LinkedIn is the second in Australia, Denmark, India, Finland and Canada.

Although research shows that the spread of Zuckerberg’s creation has been slowing, I don’t think that the worldwide social media network will be outranked anytime soon, even by popular upcoming social sites.