Facebook’s Our Friend

Posted September 14th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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I didn’t hear it, but I understand Mark Zuckerberg’s speech this week at TechCrunch was to-the-point  and powerful, emphasizing the social mission at the heart of his Facebook enterprise.

The social network’s experienced some serious business this year – with an IPO and all. The fact that their shares are significantly de-valued at the moment doesn’t help. Nonetheless there’s little question that FB remains an indispensable part of the lives of millions, and it’s intensifying while competitors (G+) flounder.

As administrator of Business Pages for several companies, I’m at times frustrated by FB’s interface, which can be infuriating, stuck, or stupid. On the other hand, the social network brings my clients phenomenal business growth. It’s exciting to watch them assimilate the culture and become skillful communicators there. The communities they’re building are supportive, rich sources of inspiration as well as revenue.

But the main motivation for this post is my recent sense that FB has become truly, deeply meaningful to my own emotional life. I’m not yet addicted, and would survive separation. The time will come, though, I bet.

I’ve renewed acquaintances, made new ones, learned, explored, shared, and often been touched by FB. It has become my trusted Friend.



Is the Party Over?

Posted July 11th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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The whirling universe of social media seems to have slowed down lately. With Facebook gone public, Google+ creeping toward rigor mortis, and Twitter degrading to a boring barrage of promotions, the old excitement just isn’t there.

There are a million reasons for this. The channels themselves are limited. While large followings are admired, the more updates in your stream, the less likely you are to see any particular person’s messages. How can relationships take root? All of us in the sandbox together does not mean we’re actually relating. Maybe we’re just getting in one another’s way.

Each social network asks for the whole story: bio, contact info, picture, work history, and all your lists of friends. The more we upload to one site, the less we’re likely to want to move all that data to another site. I may not adore Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I’d be quick to replace it with a competitor.

Twitter’s my favorite, and yet it’s far from realizing its full potential. Why are relatively few people using this marvelous tool for inter-connectivity? It could be connecting citizens, and instead it’s become merely a revolving billboard.

Has social media failed us? Have we failed it?



Speakers and Listeners

Posted May 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.

Why not?

Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.

Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!

Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.

Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.



Tech Bubble or New World?

Posted May 10th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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The debut of Facebook on Wall Street, with its imminent IPO, is attracting a ton of analysis from every quarter about the social network’s true worth. Everyone from Spin Sucks to  Jason Falls to CNN.com has an idea about whether or not we should take seriously FB’s supposed sky-high valuation.

To be honest, the valuation of just about anything these days shocks this old lady. Gee, we used to buy gas for 65 cents a gallon.

It’s funny how, in a way, as inflation soars, money becomes increasingly irrelevant. Getting what you want becomes a matter of leverage, involving many assets besides money. Assets like content and contacts, systems and apps.

I spent an hour this evening on Facebook, as I’m often wont to do. It was entirely enjoyable.

Google+  lets me lounge in video hangouts enjoying my friends and family of an evening as if we’re in the same room. Will that overshadow the use of FB? In some ways at least, I bet it will.

But the breathtaking leap that Facebook has allowed us will never lose its worth. Being able to communicate so casually and yet so meaningfully with friends, family, and whoever else re-defines our humanity. 



Hyper or Linked?

Posted March 4th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Most of us have ambitions, things we want to do or create. But there’s also a ton that the outside world wants us to do. Sometimes it’s not easy to know which motivations are truly yours and which are pressures from without.

Accepting social media and incorporating it into your business rides that fine line between something you really want to do and something the world around is requesting that you do.

Examples: we’ve felt pressured to join Google+, create fancy Facebook tabs, collect a million Twitter followers. Then after a bit of time rolls by, Google+ deflates, FB tabs are replaced by the Timeline, and your million followers have proven entirely useless to you.

Our (positive, growth-oriented) gut-driven drives should be acted upon quickly, but much in life actually does not require the immediate response that may be implied by the times, a seller, fashion, or other impinging force. Much of the time, we’ll fare far better by waiting to see what happens.

Maturity is marked by such an ability to wait. Maturity is knowing when to wait-and-see, and to do so with calm control.

Maybe we can develop a wiser culture on the internet, less hyper, better linked.



Internet Roller Coaster

Posted February 20th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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Observing the fluctuations and unpredictability of social media can leave you breathless, dizzy, or entertained – according to personal tendencies.

We thought, a season or two ago, that Google+ was taking over the world. Many still anticipate that will happen. But look at that smooth operator, Pinterest, sneaking into everyone’s heart. Which platform, do you think, is more worthy of your time?

This article about Facebook’s failure as a storefront suggests a cloud over the whole idea of doing business via the SM giant. If customers are not, after all, interested in purchasing from FB … Gee, I guess, we have to use that platform for dialog and engagement outside sales. Still a difficult concept for so many to grasp.

Here’s another one: when QR Codes came on the scene, I was thrilled with its in-person, right now interface of public and website. But as this article shows, there’s a far better technology coming down the pike.

It’s a daily circus, complete with clowns and heroes. It’s in the same category as reading the news always was, except these powers closely affect our daily lives. But don’t panic; let it flow. Detached, slightly amused calm will serve you well online.



Facebook Nation

Posted January 12th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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Of course, I don’t like the new Facebook timeline design. It would be un-American to accept it unconditionally! But it truly does seem cluttered and hard to read.

I remember, maybe 15 years ago, my boss handed me a print-out of an email exchange. The thing looked so oddly formatted and full of techno-speak that I couldn’t take it seriously. Not knowing what it was, I tossed it. Peeved my boss, no doubt.

My point: new technologies require extensive assimilation time. This is why all Facebook innovations are met with immediate disgust.

And then eventually we all get used to it.

Yes, the Behemoth can count on commanding the crowd, despite complaints. Its creative license is boundless.

I suspect future FB innovations will simplify the home page while retaining the life-long perspective. As long as your entire history is there, you’re not likely to abandon the account, eh? The “too-big-to-fail” syndrome takes on mind-boggling proportions.

All this doesn’t bother me. The data is harmless enough. Much more to the point: how do we protect the integrity of this online system? How can it sustain viability as a market square/neighborhood café and avoid dissolving into useless graffiti and offensive marketing blasts?



Social media is creative self-expression

Posted December 19th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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True confessions: I don’t have a Facebook Page for my business. Never have. The use of FB Pages, seems to me, is to provide a forum for fans to dialog amongst themselves and with the company. If your clientele aren’t likely to be enthusiastic about chatting with one another, why have a Page? It will just be a one-way conversation.

I also don’t have a YouTube account, but for a very different reason. I’d love to have a YouTube Channel, all gussied up and chock full of cool stuff. But then, I’d have to take the time to get a grip on making videos, creating a style and format, a list of topics, a logo, some music, la, la, la. Just ain’t happenin’. Yet.

Perhaps the ultimate confession is that though I have an account on Google+, I never ever go there. Oh, and it’s been maybe six months since I returned to Quora.

All this after more than four years in the online world. Shouldn’t I be more advanced, social media-wise? Talk about the hairdresser with messy hair …

Social media is creative self-expression.  No one formula works for all. If you’re feeling forced to comply, explore other avenues.

 



Use Social Media to Combat Stereotypes

Posted September 16th, 2011 by admin and filed in Branding, social media
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Lately, we’re embarking on the fearsome path to purchase a new car. In the process of exploring dealerships, I’ve been thinking about social media. See, even in 2011, the car salesman is still an unsavory character by stereotype and also quite often in actual experience.

Selling cars is a job that attracts hustlers, and while we all want to be clever hustlers, we certainly don’t want to be hustled. My partner and I have gone to great lengths to avoid prolonged contact with these people, just because we expect to have to combat a hard sell from a greasy character.

What a shame. Surely the majority of car salespeople are fine upstanding folk. Their reputation probably does them injustice.

So if I was a car sales person, I would use social media to prove that I am a human being. I’d have a Facebook page for business contacts. I’d blog about the business. I’d collect email addresses and send newsletters full of useful info about cars but also other things besides cars. Advice for golfers, maybe, or travel tips.

I’d use the internet to become a real person, someone trustworthy, instead of a mere stereotype. Bet my sales would skyrocket.



Social Media Is …

Posted September 13th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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“The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.” So states Wikipedia. Social interaction is further defined  as “… a superset beyond social communication.”

At first, this sounds convoluted. Isn’t communication already defined as interactive dialogue? In what way is social interaction “beyond” social communication?

The definition also says that social media “… allow(s) the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”

Maybe it’s the “content” part that begins to make sense of these new meanings. Traditionally, communication is dialogue. But with the internet, communication becomes both dialogue and document. Perhaps the key to the web’s quantum leap in interactivity is “user-generated content.”

Conversation that becomes content is an asset, a potentially profitable investment. A few examples:

  • Twitter’s #blogchat
  • blog comments
  • Facebook discussions
  • niche forums
  • webinar discussions
  • FAQ pages addressing customer concerns
  • testimonials

What about content that becomes conversation? Well, that’s what we’re all shooting for, right? The coveted word of mouth that delivers more than any other method. The buzz, the virus that we pray will take hold.

Communication used to mean dialogue. Now, online, it means dialogue as content. Dialogue as investment.