Avoiding the Facebook Monster

Wednesday marked the third somewhat annual meeting of Facebook developers in California called the F8 (pronounced “fate”) conference.  Amid rumors of Internet domination and privacy obliteration, Mark Zuckerberg calmly announced , among other, slightly less press-worthy items, that Facebook would be launching the universal “like” button (a.k.a the Facebook Monster) so that users could thumbs up individual web pages and publish that to Facebook for their friends to see.  The button/monster is designed to embed Facebook functionality outside of Facebook and allow web page publishers to tailor content to a user based on his/her like history.  Users will also be able to tell which of their friends have liked the same web page or news story or whatever.

Now I can understand why people are getting all up in arms about privacy.  Facebook has the potential to collect the motherload of data about user preferences, interests an buying habits and channel this information to advertisers or the CIA.  However, during the F8 conference, Facebook did not make any official ad announcement, only that they didn’t have plans to change their current policy which allows developers to apply user data to target ads on their own site.

Phillip Rhoades wrote a great post earlier this week explaining why he thought these changes were “just some new toys, not the death of privacy,” and I agree. People are worried about Facebook becoming Big Brother and when the media uses phrases like “Facebook extended its tentacles across the internet today” and “its claws for pulling in outside content are now razor-sharp,” the privacy nervousness gets a little more acute.  But users should remember that if they agree to make something public by clicking a like button – it’s public.  And as Christina Warren says over at Mashable, “public no longer means ‘public on Facebook,’ public means ‘public in the Facebook ecosystem.’”

Just learn how to properly use Facebook’s privacy settings and educate yourself about how the personalized feeds work, and you’ll avoid the slimy tentacles and razor-sharp claws of the Facebook monster. And maybe, just maybe you’ll start to like the personalized playlist Pandora has put together for you based on what bands you have liked elsewhere on the web.  I think that might be pretty cool.

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Not so Daily Social

I’ve just realized that I named my blog “Daily Social” with the full intent to post interesting and informative social media-ish content every day. Well loyal readers, you’ll notice that that really hasn’t been the case – and I’m okay with that. While fresh content is suppose to help attract and maintain readers, my goal for this blog was never to reach the masses (although the masses continue to come to my blog because of the Farmville pic).

I was recently asked in an interview (top secret – no word on the outcome yet) why I started my blog. Although I had not rehearsed this answer like I did for 50 other Frequently Asked Interview Questions (just go ahead and ask me what my biggest weakness is), it was easy for me to find the right words. I started this blog with the intention of learning 1) how to post a blog, 2) about social media. You learn best by teaching, and I hope I’ve taught at least some of you a thing or two about Facebook, or Twitter or going on safari.

I’m working on a post right now for Marketing Conversation about this whole Facebook “like” button/taking over the Internet phenomenon and because when I learn, you learn, here is a bit of light reading for you:

What you should know about Facebook’s changes – CNN
What Facebook’s Latest Means for the Web – CNET
Facebook Open Graph: What it Means For Privacy – Mashable

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Ellie Brown: Professional Networker

That’s right.  Professional networker.  I even have the cards to prove it now.

Many thanks to the brilliant Shelli Silverstein for the design.  I’ll be breaking these babies out as soon as we print them later this week (I hope!).  So now that I’m professional, please offer me a job. okaythanksbye.

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Blogger’s Block and Safari Videos

The creative juices just aren’t flowing these days.  Perhaps it is three unfinished papers, the stress of graduation and impending unemployment that is sucking all the life out of me.  Well, here’s to hoping I get some inspiration back.

In an effort to do so, I’m posting a video from the good ole days when I was “working” in Kenya, aka going on safari.  Hope you enjoy this substitute for my usually witty and informative blog content.  If you want, I’ll even relate it to social media.  The lionesses represent the influential people in a social network, while the cubs are members of the community.  The warthog represents a business that isn’t properly interacting within these networks.  As you can see, first the influentials eat you, then call their cubs over to finish the job.

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Hello captain obvious: Facebook is good for business

Chris Abraham, the big boss at Abraham Harrison where I am interning this semester, sent me this article to blog about on Marketing Conversation.  Enjoy!

Alright maybe not THAT obvious to executives still marveling at the technology of the fax machine. But it’s hard for me as a student of the Abraham Harrison school of social media to understand that some businesses still have not embraced the potential of a solid social media strategy – including an interactive Facebook page. Fact is, Abraham Harrison has understood for a while now that individuals trust the recommendations of people in their social networks when it comes to spending their pay checks, and Facebook makes it very easy to publicize one’s brand affinity and share these positive opinions with others.  Retailers who are actively involved in marketing their products and services using Facebook may have a distinct advantage over competitors in terms of product recommendations.

According to a report released by market research company Morpace, 68% of consumers say that a positive referral from a Facebook friend makes them more likely to buy a certain product or visit a certain retailer.  Take out the word “Facebook” from that sentence and we’ve got old news; of course positive referrals make a difference in purchasing behavior. But what is noteworthy about Facebook’s role in all of this is how individuals are now using their public affiliation with certain corporate brands via their profiles to build up their own personal brands (while still touting the benefits of Product X).  The Morpace report  states that the primary reason individuals join a Fan Page is to “let my friends know what products I support.”  Additionally, a study of over 1500 consumers by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that 60% of Facebook fans and 79% of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend certain brands since becoming a fan or follower.

Individuals are now co-producers of brands’ messages in terms of their recommendations and given the evidence from these studies, if your business is not on Facebook you’re missing out on the opportunity for some earned word-of-mouth marketing and you risk being considered irrelevant in today’s marketplace.

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Break me off a piece of Nestle’s social media meltdown

Pay attention PR students…this one will be in the “what not to do” section of the social media case study book for a while.  Nestle, best known for Kit-Kats (IMHO), is embroiled in a fierce “oh no you didn’t” battle with social media…yes, all of it.

Here’s what happened according to Caroline McCarthy at CNET:

So here’s how it appears to have started: Environmental activist group Greenpeace has long been putting the pressure on Nestle to stop using palm oil, the production of which has been documented as a source of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and endangered species loss. A provocative new Web video campaign (warning: may be a bit nauseating) on behalf of Greenpeace’s U.K. arm targeted the food manufacturer as a threat to the livelihoods of orangutans, and according to Greenpeace, Nestle lobbied to have the video removed from YouTube, citing a copyright complaint. Cue plenty of free press for Greenpeace.

But it got worse. These days, just about every brand has a public forum in the form of a Facebook fan page, and Greenpeace supporters–whom the activist group had encouraged to change their Facebook profile photos to anti-Nestle slogans that often incorporated one or more of the company’s food logos–started posting to the Nestle fan page en masse. Nestle countered with a mild threat: “To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic–they will be deleted.” A Nestle rep diving into the comments of the thread with responses like “Oh please…it’s like we’re censoring everything to allow only positive comments” didn’t calm things down.

Long story short, fans are really TO’ed and Nestle is in social media time-out.  (Finger shaking) Learn how to interact properly with your fans and then you can leave the corner.  Maybe try and take a hint from Starbucks, a company that has weathered storms of criticism and prevailed…mainly based on the company’s loyal Facebook fan page and Twitter following that they have spent a great deal of time and energy building.  For example, last year Starbucks was accused of donating its profits in Israel to fund the country’s army — even though Starbucks doesn’t have any cafés in Israel.  Starbucks’ social media progress allows the company to manage any discontent that is expressed within the social media space.  Starbucks calls this the “embassy strategy,”  making MyStarbucksIdea and its Facebook and Twitter pages places that when you go there you know you’re going to get the straight scoop.

Nestle should have taken the time to listen to the concerns of their fans and not responded so brashly to their comments.  It obvious Nestle customers want the company to stop using palm oil.  Nestle should listen and take this as an opportunity to come out with some new “organic,” non-palm oil Kit-Kats so everyone is happy.  I know I’d buy them and maybe Greenpeace would lay off a bit.

(Disclaimer: I realize I’ve been writing about Starbucks a lot recently.  It’s not cause they paid me to (I wish), but rather it’s because I’m writing about them for my graduate capstone project.  So I’ve been reading about Venti soy lattes for weeks now.  And they have some good social media strategies.)

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Wendy’s (March) Madness

March Madness is upon us once again.  I think Lehigh is going to take the whole tournament this year (I have a deep love for the Patriot League since I graduated from Bucknell and go to American now).  But who knows what could happen? I know Kansas remembers 2005.

Well, Wendy’s is hoping that as we’re all watching Lehigh dance to the championship we’ll be chowing down on some delicious boneless wings.  According to an article from Brandweek, consumers who organize tournament viewing parties using Wendy’s Facebook page could win a $50 gift certificate.  Consumers can also get themselves a gift card by using Twitter.  The big prize is awarded to those who have the funniest and quirkiest responses to various challenges. For instance, in the first week, Wendy’s is asking consumers on Twitter to finish the statement “If taste buds could talk, they’d say: ‘Boneless Wings (finish this from a quirky perspective).”

What I find most interesting about this marketing effort is that it will not receive any advertising support.  It’s social media only.  Wendy’s is hoping to get some good buzz going and build up its network of fans and followers.  With only a modestly popular Facebook and Twitter following for a big brand like Wendy’s (230,000 fans and about 2,800 followers), it will be interesting to see if an effort like this pays off.  Or else we’ll all bear witness to Wendy’s own marketing madness and no one will know about or participate in the contest.

Here’s the link to the whole article: Wendy’s Floods Social Media Zone for NCAA Tourney.

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