The Love/Hate Relationship with Facebook

31 08 2009

You see her walk into the classroom and sit in front of you.  You’re so enamored by her appearance that you ask to borrow her Play-Doh.  Before you know it, it’s time for recess.  Fast forward 20 years and your first love from those early years sends you a friend request on Facebook.  Feelings of rejection from your elementary school love resurface.  Do you accept that friend request? Do you reject that request?  Let’s not be overdramatic, and hopefully you are not still obsessed with your way-back-when love from 20 years ago.  However, there’s nothing wrong with wondering what your ex-significant other is up to these days, whether it is their career choices, school choice, or marital status.  That is what social media sites, such as Facebook help us accomplish.  They serve as points of connection that link friends (or former bfs/gfs) together while helping us garner information that we couldn’t get anywhere else.

So, you accept that friend connection.  Do you write something on the wall of your new “friend?”  Are you still vindictive of the fact that you were dumped 20 years ago?  Do you update your Facebook status to reflect that pain? That is where the fine line exists.  Apparently a percentage of Facebook users complete that action to evoke feelings of jealousy that they think their ex-partner might have. According to a poll from UK based Alibi, 58% of Facebook users have looked up and became friends with an ex in the past, with approximately 15% of those users admitting to changing their status to make said ex-partner jealous.  Additionally, 39% of those “cyber stalkers” took advantage of social media sites to spread rumors about their ex.

While these figures may seem a bit high, it does bring up the issue of social media sites and the accessibility of information.  How much is too much?  Use the limited profile section and relevant privacy settings to protect your personal information, whether if it’s from that bitter ex-lover from the 4th grade, or possibility even a future employer.  My advice: don’t stalk!


Twitter + Location-Based Tweets = “TwitterStalk”

21 08 2009

Location is everything.  So it comes as no surprise that one of the fastest climbing social media sites on the web is adding a location feature to their social toolset.  Twitter has just announced that their new location API will soon be rolled out to users to couple location data with individual tweets for a more robust set of information.  Imagine you are road tripping to Portland to visit a friend and make a Quiznos pit-stop.  As a Twitter user they will be able to tell that you are at the Quiznos in Hood River and will arrive on their doorstep in under an hour.  This combination will in theory make each tweet more meaningful (as content and users will be searchable by actual location), relevant and develop into a more powerful business, marketing and personal tool with this additional layer of data.

Not long from now, knowing someone’s precise location in real-time will be a huge part of how Twitter is turning the corner towards new and data-driven innovations – even before Facebook has had the chance to add a similar location-based element to their site.  Being able to accurately “TwitterStalk” an individual by location may raise speculation, but perhaps this “I know Where You Tweeted from Last” addition will be able to bring relevancy to even the most useless of tweets by placing them in context by location.  Thus, making the Twitter experience more impactful for more users.

And on another note, the opt-in aspect of this location feature should help to avoid the indignation of even their most privacy-paranoid users.  Your location will only be shared if you check the box.

So how will this change help us and help Twitter users worldwide?

  • People will be able to more accurately search for the information they are looking for.
  • Tweets can be filtered efficiently by location, making you an even more informed stalker.
  • There is the potential to build and launch a location-based ad network – which I know we’ve all been waiting to see when Twitter would take a stab at this.

We, as social media users and consumers, are much more adapted to the constant changes that happen daily within the social media landscape than we were just 3 years ago.  In the fall of 2006, I can recall the racket that ensued around my college campus when Facebook added their first generation “Mini-Feed”, and which quickly inspired an outburst of “groups against the Facebook Mini-Feed” in heated protest.  This whole new level of knowledge of what friends were doing on Facebook was mind boggling.  Now several years down the road, the idea that we can see the actual location that someone is posting from is exciting and highly anticipated by many users.  Getting news and information from friends and connections in real-time is the norm, and waiting to read headlines as they roll off the press seems archaic.

With the rise of Twitter and the mass of second-by-second information sharing, the need and expectation that this would be taken to the next level was imminent.  Location information is the next big thing, and the big online powerhouses like Google have already begun their work on it.  Google was on the ball first, launching Google Latitude.  The smart players like Twitter have to adapt, re-tool and innovate to not only keep up, but to continue to evolve the way we use social media.

SEC Kicks Social Media to the Curb

18 08 2009

It’s the beginning of November.  The air is crisp in Jacksonville, FL.  The smell of intoxicated tailgaters is rampant throughout the parking lot of the stadium as they gather for the Annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the Florida-Georgia football game.  Cheers ignite from the raucous crowd as the Florida Gators score a touchdown.  Florida mascot, Albert Gator is so thrilled that he decides to pull out his phone to tweet and boast to all his Twitter followers that the Georgia bulldogs are going down.  And just as he pulls out his little green phone, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) police sweep in and kick him out of the game for violating a rule put in place by the all mighty SEC brethren.

While the above situation would not literally happen (at least I hope not) it does however give insight to a new media policy that the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is looking to implement in upcoming seasons of all NCAA Division I sports.  According to an article from the Tampa-St. Petersburg Times, the SEC is actively looking to implement a new media policy that states “Ticketed fans can’t “produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event.”

That means tweeting is a no no!  No taking photos of you and your friends at the game and uploading them to Facebook!  Does that mean you can’t upload a photo that you take with a digital camera to Facebook?  The grey area here is immeasurable.

Yes folks, you heard it right…the SEC (Southeastern Conference, not the Securities and Exchange Commission!) is now attempting to ban the use of accessing any social media site or account, while in any SEC stadium.  Why would the SEC do this?  It’s simple—the risk of financial loss.  From television rights alone, the SEC will receive a staggering $3 billion over the next 15 years for their TV broadcasts.  Yet, the conference is afraid that Albert Gator and his student Twitterers are going to pose a threat to their broadcasting revenue, drawing millions of users away from their televisions to their respective twitter pages.  Give me a break.

It’s not even necessary to lay out an argument against the SEC.  Before this outrageous policy is put into effect, maybe SEC should answer the following question: “Is a diehard football fan not attending the game, going to watch the game on his/her television or follow tweets from friends?”  I think someone on the SEC decision making committee is looking at the wrong end of the spectrum.  In fact, if the SEC were smart enough they would be hiring the sharpest social media gurus in the Southeast United States  to launch a social media campaign of their own, and ensure that their social media presence overshadowed all others.  And, by cross-promoting their social media with their broadcast media they could potentially gain an even larger and more committed audience.  But who am I to judge?  The truth is that fans are some of the most important players out on the field, and you just can’t bench that kind of social media talent.

Holiday Retailers: Get Your Plan Started

8 08 2009

As soon as Labor Day weekend ends, I always receive inquiries from retailers asking about holiday online promotions. By September, the large national advertisers already have their internet buys placed and search budgets allocated. But the mom and pop e-tailers and local brink and mortar stores always seem behind.

Paid search prices increase substantially during the prime holiday buying season (Thanksgiving weekend through New Years).  Advertisers need to work on their quality scores now to keep pay-per-click prices reasonable. Google rewards good advertising history with better positioning and reduced prices.

Top positions in the free, organic search engine listings are highly coveted. Compared to paid search, the cost per visitor is usually less and the audience much larger. For retailers new to search engine marketing, it sometimes takes 12 weeks to achieve top listings. You better start now.

Start developing your FaceBook fan club now. Message your best clients customers through social media sites. Strong integrated advertising campaigns require numerous messaging channels, and social media has not been saturated with spam…yet.

This holiday season we expect more pressure on display banner advertising. Lock in your rates and impressions now before inventory becomes slim and prices increase. Geo-targeted banners through Yahoo and other ad networks are smart. Consider purchasing traffic through local television and radio stations display ads and pre-roll.

Strong creative is the key to successful impression-based advertising. Adding video and flash presentations to landing pages, email and banners require several weeks of production. Good web developers are busy in October and November, so start the process now.

Do not be the last minute internet media buyer, calling Formic the second week of November. Proper planning now will save money and increase ROI. Call Formic’s client service manager Royle Johnson now for more a free one hour consultation. His number is (503) 577 – 6905.

Can Yahoo “Bing” It On?

5 08 2009

Google isn’t always the answer to every online advertiser’s goals and objectives, especially those in small, niche markets.  Surprise.  What small and local businesses need is a search engine and ad platform that can be the second major component in their company’s SEO, PPC and online advertising efforts; making their online marketing mixes more powerful and effective.  The introduction of the Yahoo-Bing search collaboration could be just what businesses have been waiting for.  Two heads are always better than one, right?

Yahoo-Bing Search Engine

Yahoo-Bing Search Engine

So, what will this search engine fusion mean for small and local businesses?  The outlook is positive.  By combining two of the search world’s top players (let’s not forget that Yahoo was once at the forefront of search, until Google came along and stole their thunder) the outcome should be a more powerful, relevant organic search and an adCenter that rivals Google AdWords.  It should become a real, competitive alternative to Google paid and organic search.  Small, local and niche businesses will no longer be forced to struggle against the mass of Google search, but will be able to get effective and comparable results from Yahoo-Bing.  Perhaps Yahoo-Bing local search will also evolve to be more powerful for local companies.  Certainly the resources are there to make it happen.

While Micro-Hoo is definitely not going to replace Google, nor is it likely that it will come close to un-seating Google from their throne or become the “second Google”; the merge will help bring the scale to Bing that was lacking from their original 8.4% market share.  Bing is the superior search engine with a better and more efficient adCenter, while Yahoo owns a larger share of paid advertisers, but has a cumbersome ad platform (as well as lacking an offline Editor which is tedious for search engine marketers who manage paid campaigns on Yahoo).  By gaining Yahoo’s search traffic, search data, online inventory, combining industry strengths and joining them with the search power of Bing, it should bring credibility to the Yahoo-Bing hybrid and make it more appealing to searchers and advertisers.  Hypothetically, Bing-Hoo should be able to use this wealth of data to refine their search algorithms and improve results relevancy to become a viable competitor in the market for the first time.

While the question remains, can Microsoft and Yahoo combine forces to keep up with Google’s constant innovations and new technology to benefit searchers and advertisers?  Their shot together is definitely better than it was apart, as they will face Google with a more robust market share, resources and creative and engineering minds.  Or, will this new challenge just propel Google to innovate better and faster?  Whatever happens (for the better or for worse of searchers, advertisers and businesses) changes in the search world are inevitable, and this move was the only one left to respond to Google’s continual rise to power.  If Microsoft and Yahoo are true competitors, they have what they need to be able to “Bing” it on in 2010.

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