Tag Archives: social

Facebook Doesn’t Need a Facelift…Yet

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I am writing you on behalf of the Social Media class at Wichita State. I’ve come up with some interesting ideas to improve your product that I think you should take a deep consideration of.

When asked how Facebook could change their product for the better over the next three years, the first thing I thought of was incorporating an email group membership and a similar system to Microsoft Outlook. Outlook allows users to email, set tasks, meetings, and calendar of events.

Facebook already incorporates an email feature and allows users to attach items. By doing this, Facebook is making smaller email accounts like Yahoo! and Hotmail irrelevant to younger users (most of which use the accounts for setting up memberships to other websites like slickdeals, reddit, ect.) and thus use these accounts essentially for spam. It’s my belief Facebook has a chance to market to users with the email application. There is a section on Facebook that allows user to select things they enjoy (a basic about you section). Why not create a new section that holds websites you’re a member of. You can only say you’re a member of this website if you use Facebook’s email to set it up. So let’s say you create an ESPN account to play fantasy football. You sign up for ESPN using a Facebook email account and your profile updates that you belong to ESPN. Instead of just “liking” a page you can have a section that has all your memberships on it. This allows Facebook to take slight control of email from Google.

So what of this Outlook? Outlook already syncs up to Facebook if you chose the option, why create your own? Facebook has a great chance to increase advertising effectiveness here.

Example 1: Suppose you’re at work and you want to schedule a lunch with 15 coworkers. With Outlook you just click on the calendar to create the event on a specific day, type in their email address, and send an invite to go to lunch. What Facebook could do is take Outlook’s calendar model and make one of their own. Users could go to the calendar section, invite other users (much like an event), and select a place (this works out especially well if the place has a Facebook page). The business could see how many people are attending so they could make reservations, and Facebook is used instead of Outlook.

Example 2: You have a crazy semester coming up. Classes and work all week, so you need to set a schedule. You make one in the new Facebook application and you’re able to keep track of your schedule on Facebook. You have the option of letting other select users see your schedule. Facebook could use the information you typed into the computer for advertisers. Suppose you wrote “Trip to Lawrence” on your calendar. Facebook could use that information and shops in Lawrence could display ads on your right column when the trip is near. This creates an even more dynamic approach to advertising and users will use your feature and not a competitor’s.

Facebook could make these simple changes and improve their product.

Now to be critical of Facebook

The new layout is very painful and new layouts come out way too often. I like how things have changed from the original layout, but the changes happened too fast. It’s too much for your users. Every time you make changes there is some idiot who thinks you’ll start charging for services. Then a collective group freaks out. A better communication system would help this. It would be nice if you could message all users on what changes will occur. You post on the news feed, but then there is public interpretation of what you posted. If any of the users message you back, you can have some poor intern categorize all the responses.

Though I’ve tended to agree with most of your changes, you need to make two things back to their original state. 1: Removing any tags of you in photos needs to be easier. Before the most recent update, removing tags was as simple as clicking “remove tag”. Now there is a lengthy process involved, you still are able to remove the tag, but it takes longer to do so. 2: Stop making the most commented story appear on the Facebook feed. By doing this, you make the popular stories even more popular and the less popular ones even less. It creates a sort of hierarchical status.

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This is a General Statement About a General Phenomenon

  Do people actually believe what fortune cookies tell them? I’m not saying that the cookies are not filled with wise quotes or decent general advice for life. What I’m saying is, do these generalities actually apply? Let’s say you’re at a restaurant with some friends and you get a cookie saying, “clean your room and your mind will be clean for success.”  The cookie is not part of your life, it doesn’t know if your room is actually messy, or if you are all ready successful. To add to this, what if one of your friends gets that cookie and you had another. You would switch messages. In essence, you’re getting a premade statement that may or may not apply to you, but contains enough general advice that it should be able to connect with you. …and, in sum, that’s how I feel about predicting the future of news.

Let me elaborate my summed message. We know very little about the future. In the ’50s, people thought we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. WRONG! Predicting the future of such a dynamic entity is a near impossible task. Honestly, you might not even be able to predict what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow, much less the future of the entire news media.

There are 5 things we can say about news that is true for right now:

1, news online is instantaneous and accessible once the story breaks. No longer do we wait for the paper or the 6 o’clock broadcast. The reason television news successfully outperformed print had little to do with images and more to do with immediacy of news. Rather than wait until the next morning to read about what happened, people could hear about it at 5, 6, 10, 1030, and in the morning. Turner Broadcasting changed the understanding of television news blocks when they created CNN. CNN was the first 24 hour news programming and viewers could now watch when it fit their schedule, instead of when the news broadcast or was print. This translated easily to the internet where news happens immediately and is reported right after the event. Only, instead of being broadcast to a mass, the internet made news more interactive. Comments on stories, and blogs took off making news more interactive.

2, reporters and news agencies use Twitter for the right reasons. What a useful tool Twitter is for spreading news. Reporters and news agencies found this out when they started using the service. We found out Osama Bin Laden was dead before the news broke on TV (*ahem* immediate access to news). ESPN covered the Phillies and Mets at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia the night Bin Laden died. No televised messages reached the people in the ballpark, but they knew what was going on because of Twitter.

3, only old people consistently read the newspaper or watch televised news broadcasts. Okay, so that’s a generalization, but not too much of one. Ask any tv news reporter what their viewer’s age demographic is. They’ll tell you that their consistent audience is older adults. Kind of hard to retain an audience that the grim reaper will be taking.

4, news websites are an outdated method for news. Whoa! The internet is now out of date? Yes, it is. Widgets and apps are becoming a huge source of news. Your desktop computer, laptop or smartphone brings the news to you right when it’s published. Websites are not a dead media, but apps and widgets are becoming more and more prevalent in news consumption.

5, news organizations are branching off into areas they are not known for. Radio stations and newspapers are starting to hire people who know how to edit video. Television stations are hiring people who know how to write stories for online publications. Convergence is creating similarities between the major media outlets, rather than extrapolating the differences. Look at the Eagle’s and KSN’s website. As of right now, 4;12 CST on 10/19/2011 they have the same story about slot machines arriving in for the new casino in the Mulvane area. Not only do they have the same story,they have the same style. Picture and print, no video.

So, let’s grab the check and crack open that fortune cookie. “The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.” Huh, good job fortune cookie.

Okay, so that’s the general view of news media changes, but what about comparing how people have consumed news in the past to attempt to dictate the direction of news?
People like information immediately, or at least immediately at their disposal. No longer are we basing our lives on when news is reported. We are consuming the news: at  a rate we want to, with the stories we want to, from the sources we want, whenever we want to. In the next block I will give an example of how broadcast news changed. The traditional local broadcast model goes something like this (first segment):

1. Graphic crime story
2. Quick VO/SOT of crime story with a concerned citizen
2. Different ways you or your family could die
3. A look at the Weather (which I still believe is right outside  the window)
4. Followup on a national story about something bad that happened or political event (can be switched to first block if bad enough or with local connection)
5. Local Charity or School did something
6. Back to the Weather
7. Tease of a playful kitten that got stuck in a tree (the story doesn’t actually broadcast until the end of the news)

Okay, so the first segment of the local news has 5 different stories you are forced to engage in. Well if you went online, you wouldn’t have to sit through all the death and ways your family could die just to see the cat stuck in a tree. You could just click on it. And…if you had a computer or smartphone with widgets or apps installed you could just watch the story whenever you want without even going on the website. The traditional broadcast method makes viewers sit through things they are not interested in, but news media has all the stories laid out in a buffet style (the 2-year-old General’s Chicken is even out there). Not only can you pick from the stories that you are interested in, the news outlets show you other stories you may be interested in because of the one you selected. This is just comparing TV to online. There were changes between Print and Radio, Radio and TV, TV and Internet, and now Internet and Widgets/Apps.

I hate writing a piece about the future of news without stating a piercing belief I have about the future of news. But that would be contradictory with the message I’m writing about. I am writing about the future of news, but what I’m saying is we don’t know what the future is. General statements like changes will happen are of course accurate. It’s when you attempt to describe the changes that you become wrong. People in the ’50s said we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. Well we don’t, but their prediction, while wrong, indicated that we’d have more advanced technology than at current time. That is correct. So I’m going to say a general fortune cookie style statement about the future of news. It consists of two parts:

1. The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.
There will be changes in our news mediums, but, because one change often leads to another, predicting all the changes is nearly impossible.

2. People will continue to consume the news: they are interested in, when it fits into their schedule and from various sources.
This isn’t a new trend. It started with television and carried over the internet, now it is transferring to apps and widgets. We’ll encounter new mediums along the way and the cycle will continue.

So maybe the fortune cookie is right.

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Filed under Social Media, Things With Cats in it, Wichita Businesses

Better Business Practices

How would you use Social Media in your business? Promotion? Interaction? Advertising? Any way you can?

I’m going to preface this story by telling you Mike Beaucham from The Golf Warehouse, and Will Scroggin from Cox Communications came to our social media class on 9/14/11.

Okay, so before they came I was wondering how businesses around the Wichita area communicated using social media. Well, it was interesting to see them use it in such a conversational and proactive way with their customers. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have complained about Cox Communications internet services before on the internet. So if I were to use my twitter account to complain, I would be shocked to see a response from Will. I think using Twitter to find people who are having problems with your service, and helping those people out with this service is one of the best uses of Twitter for businesses. I used to feel that businesses are a nonbreathing entity, and the only communication from this conglomerate will be by low-level employees asking you to swim through red tape, or by the accounting department.

Businesses only responded when a customer told the business there was a problem. This meant the customer had to go through the experience, contact the business, and then explain the problem. That process is a lot of work. People generally just complain about what happened, going through the process takes time and having to find the right person to complain to. Now, anyone can just hop on Twitter and complain, and, something that would surprise me, a person from the company is there to get feedback from the person. What Will does at Cox allows him to communicate to people on their terms, not the business’s, and this gets feedback to the business it otherwise would not have received. Yes the feedback is negative, but it helps them improve their product and their image by being proactive.

Mike at The Golf Warehouse uses Facebook to create conversation with his customers and promote products. The deals he posts on the page receive good responses; you can track that with Facebook page traffic and in house sales. Aside from using Facebook to promote products, I felt as though using it to interact with customers on a personal and fun level was a great idea. I especially liked the poll for what to do to the boss’s office after he left early. That creates traffic to your Facebook, lets customers take part in your business, and creates a reason for people to go to your page, which also happens to show off products. It’s using interactivity to get people to a webpage, creating a perception of fun on the page, all while exposing them to ads you placed.

So what about businesses not using social media right now? How should they implement this into their marketing? Creating a Facebook, Twitter and blogs = free. Having someone update, follow, and interact = hourly wage. The cost of creating social media is not the problem, rather the problem lies with having someone manning it. Social media is a great way for businesses to talk to other businesses, customers, or both.

So your company has decided to use social media now! That’s great! How are you going to use it? What plans do you have? What sites will you use to talk about what? What strategies do you have? …hmmm. This is a little more complicated now huh. Specific social channels have specific roles. Blasting the same message across two different channels will not get the same result either way, in fact people will realize you’ve done this. You will want to know what your target audience uses as their social channel, and go from there. Lets go make an example-

Bertrand’s company, Bertrand’s Bottoms, sells shoes. His company employed 15 people, now 16 (the social media guru). As the social media guru how do you approach getting his business more interactivity on the web while increasing sales and staying within budget? You are told that during certain sporting seasons certain products, sporting shoes, move faster than others, and this cycle continues throughout the year. Bertrand is a stickler too, he doesn’t want to spend any more money than he has to, yet he wants a quality message out there.

You want to set the expectation for your customers. I would suggest using the Twitter account to find people looking for shoes. Say you get on there and you search #running. People are saying their feet hurt from their shoes, well post to #running and talk directly to these people to let them know @BertrandsBottoms has a great shoes that will help them with their running and won’t hurt their feet. Using Will’s model Twitter can also be used to find negatives about your business. Say someone mentions how the shoes fell apart after purchase. Talk directly to them to see if you can help. This improves your image, and your product (you might not have known any problems arose with this specific shoe until now). Use Facebook to promote deals and interact with your customers. Create a flow of customers who will visit your page and see your product. Make a weekly deal that will help sell those out-of-season shoes and get interactivity on your page. Tweet your followers to check out your Facebook for sweet deals coming up.

There is no definite equation to get you more interaction from social media. F + T = More interaction and better sales does not always work. However, when used effectively F + T + Interaction + Updates can= More Visitation.

Social media moment of the week right here –

This taxidermist had a video made for his business. I’m not sure where he posted it at, but it was so ridiculous that Reddit and Digg communities loved it and his video has had tons of hits and parodies. While tons of hits does not necessarily mean more product, or in this case animals, moved, it does mean that people know of his business.

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Changes within Social Media and the Internet

Engage! explained marketing strategies in corporations and how the amount of money spent in marketing for the companies changed. Businesses are spending more and more money each year in online advertising. However, not all businesses are spending this money correctly. Simply putting more money into a social media campaign will not result in higher return on investments. There needs to be direction, a goal, a way to improve your marketing with social media, not using social media as the improvement. Too many businesses misuse social media, and it bites them back for doing so. A proper use can, when needed, effectively broadcast your message to thousands if not millions of people. I experienced the benefits first hand of proper social media use. This past summer, we had a lot of kittens at the Kansas Humane Society. We knew we had too many to give proper care to all, but we needed to find a way to get people in the door to adopt them. We decided to create a two-hour long free cat and kitten adoption event. Because we had little time to prepare for this, the only means we could express this message with were social media, and two television spots. I created a Youtube video, which we posted to our blog and facebook. Two days after posting the video, we had our adoption event and all of our cats and kittens were adopted. Using a nontraditional style of marketing, we were able to effectively reach our audience and reap the benefits. We continue to use blogs, social media and other nontraditional methods of marketing. Though, adopting all of our felines in two hours using mostly nontraditional marketing created that week is a remarkable achievement.

Social media is a cheaper, faster, and more efficient alternative to traditional marketing. This works as a double-edged sword however. Social media sites are free to join and many of the users engage with the community members. This means more money can be spent on the message and improving its quality rather than on its broadcast. Users can instantly see the message, and the message will remain on the site, and your profile for as long as you wish to keep it there. Broadcast spots, radio and print ads all cost exorbitant sums of money. Your ad on radio and television will only be broadcast for anywhere from fifteen seconds to one minute. Print ads show up in side columns and back pages of editorials. These costly ads are generated towards a group of people rather than one person, and deal with and act as a distraction towards listeners and readers. A detraction of social media comes from one of its positive aspects. Sure users can instantaneously view, share and critic other’s posts, blogs or statuses, but what happens when it’s not intended for release. Recently we saw the case of Anthony Weiner posting a picture that he vehemently denied being him, or his private region. With the immediacy of our media intake, Weiner’s followers were able to see this photo before he knew he posted it and he fell under scrutiny.

Privacy remains a barrier in the control of our social media platforms. Danah Boyd explains much of her interpretations of it in her speech Open Privacy. We perceive an illusion of control of our profiles because we can control the privacy settings. While controlling the privacy settings is important in filtering the information to sources, it will not completely filter it. It takes one slip-up and you’re Hannah Montana talking trash on other celebrities on Youtube because you thought the video was set on private. Besides, what is stopping one of the people who can see the material from publishing it? Further more, what stops someone from posting bad mouth or uploading a controversial about you? There are no privacy settings that exist to stop that.

Combining the topic of privacy settings and marketing, we end up with the idea of a new style, nontraditional marketing schematic. Using Facebook as an example, when you post your interests, activities, favorite foods, and other personal information, your intent is to post about yourself for others to see. However, what Facebook sees is demographic and psychographic analysis that can be sold to marketers. The sidebars on your profile page are not ads generated randomly and to an unspecified mass like a broadcast or print ad. These ads can not only be categorized based on demographics such as age, sex and location, but as well as psychographics like favorite food, favorite activity, and general interests. An example of a dynamic ad- Do you have a boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other? If your profile says yes, then you will receive ads based on this relationship. Popular ones that show up on my account are track your girlfriend’s location, where to go with your girlfriend, and what your baby would look like. However, if it says no, you will receive ads like where to meet girls/guys, top things guys/girls like, and so on. This dynamic shift in marketing is taking place throughout the world. Companies will be sending more messages tailored to you rather than a group. Another example of this comes from the online music station Pandora. When you create a station, you are telling Pandora a specific genre of music you listen to. By participating in the thumbs up and thumbs down filter selections, you are not only selecting certain songs to be heard, but you are selecting certain ads. If you’re listening to a station and Cage the Elephant comes on, but you click the thumbs down button, chances are you won’t hear the Cage the Elephant ad for their new cd.

Along with this change in marketing the public’s power in business to consumer communications changed. Jay Rosen highlighted certain truths and changes with this in his article The People Formerly Known as the Audience. The material is true; the consumer is now garnering more control from corporations. No longer is the corporation sending out messages with little to no feedback, but instead we can comment, like or retweet a message to spread the word and give appropriate feedback to the speaker.

Blogs enabled people to become their own printing press, Youtube allowed people to become their own broadcast stations, and podcast changed radio. The more subtle changes occurred with the addition of apps and widgets. The Internet we know now may very well be transformed from a free roam environment into an app happy, condensed, mobile world. Wired posted an article about this very thing

The Internet is not going to die or go away, but a lot of the ways we access it will change. Our Facebooks, Twitters, and Youtubes are all apps now. We don’t need to sign into browsers and go to the webpage, we can immediately find the information we want right there. This will change the future of marketing. It’s becoming more apparent that businesses need a website, a Facebook, and a Twitter, and maybe now an app to continue to flourish in the markets (I do realize that not every business needs a social media presence, and I feel that some are in it just to be in it). How cool would it be if QuikTrip posted an app that synched with the maps app on your phone to give you the nearest directions? Websites are transforming from bigger landscapes of information to condensed and mobile friendly. We log onto our accounts on our phones and ipads. These apps are not going to go away. It is my belief that the future of our social media lives and Internet consumption will evolve to this app friendly world.

It is apparent the marketing and social world around us is changing. Whether it is by company’s strategies, social networking updates and innovations, or a whole new way to access the web; changes, not only the ones we are experiencing now, are on the horizon. It is very interesting to think that fifteen years ago an entirely different beast dominated our media world. Television held a tight grip on the news world with 24-hour news, but now Facebook and Twitter allow us to instantaneously see what is happening at any given point to any given person. The articles we read for this class hit the nail on the head and defined a change that is currently occurring in our society. Brian Solis explained how businesses need, or don’t need to spend their time on social media marketing ventures. Jay Rosen wrote on the changes in media and the control the people now have. Yes it is true a handful of media conglomerates control most of the market, but blogging and other networking sites gave people a large chunk control. Danah Boyd explained the privacy issues within social media, and the illusion we see as control. Finally, Wired spawned a new thought into the idea of an ever-changing web and how we may no longer at a free roam Internet the same. Maybe apps are a fad, but a lot of the things we use now had the same stigma?

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