Tag Archives: online presence

Google+ hits a wall?

According to this article, Google+ traffic is falling.

No surprise here.  Personally, I’ve found it to be rather boring. Perhaps its because many of my friends aren’t yet on there, or maybe because the few people who are aren’t particularly active, but whatever the reason, I’ve found it to be much less engaging than Facebook or Twitter, despite the fact that it’s sort of a hybrid between the two.

Will it pick up? Probably, Google basically runs the internet. Then again, maybe not, who knows?

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Google+ – the new Facebook?

So I finally got around to finding an invite to Google+. Thus far, I am not overly impressed. While I like the idea of circles and being able to limit access to specific content, I’m just not particularly thrilled about the idea of creating a new profile, finding friends, and basically starting over from scratch.

With that said, assuming Google+ catches on, and I believe it will, it could very well be the demise of Facebook, much as Facebook caused the demise of MySpace, which killed off Friendster, etc.

On the plus side, in addition to the circles, I also like the complete integration that Google offers, something Facebook has been striving for, but Zuckerberg & co. simply don’t have the universal reach that Google has. Thus in the next social media war, I don’t see how they will compete.

At any rate, Google+ is worth checking out, if for no other reason than to see what will probably be the next big thing.

Lebron knows marketing


Provided you don’t live under a rock, you’re probably aware of the current Lebron James situation, ie, he’s going through the most highly publicized free agency in the history of American sports.

What you may not know is that King James is set to announce which team he’ll be playing for on his newly redesigned Web site (lebronjames.com). What’s truly amazing about Lebron (other than his nearly unparalleled basketball skills, obviously) is how forward thinking he is.

At only 25, LBJ has repeatedly demonstrated his understanding that he is more than just arguably the best basketball player in the universe. Now, taking a cue from his idol, Michael Jordan, he’s latched on to the fact that he is an entity. Simply by being associated with his name fortunes are made. Nike, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are all associated with James, to everyone’s benefit.

Now, realizing that his announcement will be THE story of the summer for sports, Lebron has found a way to profit on the excitement. Offering an email sign-up, it seems James is going to treat his free agent signing like a highly-touted high school player on signing day, with team caps and everything. And while awaiting the announcement, visitors to the site will be viewing commercials of Lebron’s sponsors.

While it remains to be seen how Lebron will use his Web site after the announcement, one thing is almost certain: he’ll continue to find ways to capitalize on his fame.

Facebook takes over the Internet

If you’re reading this, you’re probably on Facebook. Almost everyone is these days. As such, you’ve surely noticed the FB now allows you to connect to almost everything on the Web. From news stories, to University sites, you can now “like” or comment on almost anything.

As Facebook looks for ways expand its value online and increase its overall exposure, you’ve probably already come across something like this  (from an article on CNN.com):

On the one hand, this is a very interesting strategy, as it further unites the online world. By being able to share and comment on virtually anything with ease, it really creates a strong sense of community.

On the other hand, it further destroys the myth of online anonymity and privacy. Obviously you don’t have to comment on something if you don’t want to, but by utilizing your Facebook profile in this manner, you’re no longer hiding behind an avatar or screen name. It’s really you, out there for the world to agree or disagree with.

Personally, I’m undecided how I feel about this development. I do enjoy the compatibility it provides as we move ever closer to total Web integration. Additionally, I like that people can’t hide behind their screen names to make hateful and/or incendiary comments for their own sick amusement.  But I also worry about over-saturation. For example, do I really need to know how one of my acquaintances feels about the European Union’s stance on immigration or the Raiders’ draft class? Probably not. If this new Facebook integration crosses into that territory, it may become more of an annoyance than a useful tool, but I suppose that still remains to be seen.

Crime fighting goes digital

In a sign that everyone is finally joining the social media revolution, even the police are using social media tools. Police in Wichita, Kansas have launched their very own social media network that includes a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Youtube channel. Featuring public safety information, as well as information about crimes, the Wichita police department is using social media to help cut down on crime.

While Wichita isn’t the first city in the country to create a program like this (Boston, for example, has been doing this for some time), it is leading the charge in the Midwest, a surprising turn considering the conservative, reluctant-to-change attitudes that prevail in this part of the country. (And yes, I write that from experience.)

According to an Associated Press article on the subject, the Wichita police department realized that younger people are spending less time with traditional media such as television or newspapers, and instead are increasingly turning to online media to gather information. By acknowledging and utilizing this information, the department is able to reach out to an otherwise ignored section of the population.

Collective online culture

Believe it or not, I was just rick rolled. Completely unsuspecting, I innocently clicked on a seemingly innocuous link, only to be greeted with this:

You may remember this phenomenon. A few years back you couldn’t visit a forum or Web page without seeing some link that begged to be click. On a hip hop forum, it might be “NEW TRACK – WU TANG ft 2PAC“, a sports page might have “LEBRON DUNKS FROM 3-POINT LINE“. Whatever it was, it was something lots of people would click. And when you did, who greeted you but Mr. Rick Astley, performing his biggest hit. (Be honest, you clicked one of those links didn’t you?:-) This was known as rick rolling, and it quickly became the biggest Internet meme of all time.

But what is a meme? British scientist Richard Dawkins is widely considered the originator of the term, having introduced it in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. He defined the term as “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” In other words, it’s a piece of shared culture that is passed from person to person, essentially an inside joke shared by millions.

Of course when Dawkins wrote this book, it was well before the advent of the Internet as we know it. He surely had no idea the twist that the Internet would add to this concept. Thanks to the rapid sharing of information allowed by the Web, these inside jokes, at least the successful ones, spread like wild fire.  Almost everyone by now has been exposed to some of these.

A few of the more memorable memes:

McDonald’s Rap

Dramatic Chipmunk

All Your Base are Belong to Us

Of course not every meme has to be a video. The LOLcats, Fail Blog and One Red Paper Clip were and are incredibly popular internet memes.

But now the question remains, how can a company harness the power of this phenomenon to raise awareness and generate revenue for themselves?

One way is through the use of viral videos, or other catchy commercials. A perfect example of this is the FreeCreditReport.com commercials, catchy and fun, they attract a lot of attention on both television and the Web. Anyone who owns a television by now knows all the words to these infectious and amusing jingles, making these commercials a highly effective meme.

According to Melo Villareal at Manila Freelancer:

“Memes allow a marketing company to actually control the informative content of a certain website. At the same time a company can use a casual, light approach of marketing in the form of writing. Also, memes allow marketing companies to swiftly get vital information out to the vast customers. And since memes are “contagious” in nature, it is very likely that information will spread like wild fire in no time.”

Additionally, the use of memes creates a sort of sub-conscious peer pressure. If many people are familiar with a particular meme, those not in the know will seek it out, ostensibly to see what the buzz is about. Thus, by utilizing memes, companies are taking full advantage of peer-to-peer marketing, a leftover from the junior high days, and a highly effective form of marketing.

Of course the real reason why memes are successful as marketing tools is likely the same reason why social media has caught on among marketers: it allows for a two-way conversation. By allowing feedback, marketers are allowed a glimpse into the minds of potential customers. By seeing what these customers do and do not like, they are better able to understand both them and their purchasing habits. And isn’t that really the ultimate goal?

For further examples of successful memes, check out Know Your Meme.

How NOT to use the Internet

For those of you unfamiliar with the Kurt Greenbaum saga, it is a textbook example of Internet usage gone wrong.

Here’s the condensed version of the story:

Kurt Greenbaum is a social media expert for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He writes a blog for them called “Talk of the Day”, which is essentially a personal-type opinion blog used to discuss a variety of topics. Recent topics include usage of BC versus BCE, and a discussion of the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten. It was this last post that has caused quite a bit of uproar. It seems that a poster to the site, confident in the anonymity of the Net, decided it would be funny to answer with a bit of sophomoric humor (in the words of Naughty by Nature “It’s another way to call a kitty a cat”). Surprise, surprise, right?

Anyway, Greenbaum promptly deleted this post, but upon its re-posting from the same IP address, took the matter into his own hands. Using  analytic software (we’re watching you!), he determined the IP address originated from a St. Louis-area school. He then called the school and informed them of the situation. The school’s IT administrator traced the IP address back to a certain school employee, who was then confronted. The poster then resigned on the spot.

Since this incident took place, Greenbaum has been skewered online, everywhere from Reddit and Digg, to the Huffington Post, not to mention countless Tweeters, have picked up this story, most reacting unfavorably towards Greenbaum. Perhaps worst of all, an Internet vigilante has taken Greenbaum to task, hijacking his own name, to create a flame site, KurtGreenbaum.com (warning: site contains vulgar language).

This situation shows how the Internet brings out the worst in people, as well as demonstrating how not to react to a situation online. First of all, the commenter, is obviously someone with a juvenile sense of humor. Like most trolls, he no doubt felt secure behind the black veil of anonymity that the World Wide Web provides. Of course, as he now knows, that veil is primarily a facade. Any web master worth his or her salt has analytic software in place that tells you exactly who is looking at your site.  Thus, troll or flame at your own risk.

Secondly, if you’re going to be the online idiot that everyone hates, do it from home or the library, or basically anywhere except your place of employment. Almost every business has some form of Internet policy, and posting vulgar comments to Web sites is generally not accepted practice.

Of course, the worst decision in this entire saga was Greenbaum’s knee jerk reaction to tattle. Now I understand the impulse. I’ve dealt with trolls and idiots. It’s a common reaction to call them out for their behavior. But the comments in question were not attacking Greenbaum or the Post-Dispatch, they were just immature. And they surely didn’t warrant a call to the poster’s place of employment.

Additionally, it seems that part of the Post-Dispatch’s Web site privacy policy states: “We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information.” To my mind, this is sort of a gray area. It’s not directly solicited user information like an e-mail address, but at the same time, user information is user information, and seemingly covered under the above statement.

By taking the law into his own hands, Greenbaum has unwittingly brought about the wrath of the online community. Almost universally, his actions have been decried in message boards, forums and comment sections.

Personally, I don’t think it was Greenbaum’s intention to villainize himself this way. Had the IP address in question not linked back to a school, I wonder if he would have had the same reaction. Unfortunately, his actions set a precedent, one that reflects very poorly on his own employer. All in all, this further shows the power that an online presence can wield, whether for good or bad. The Internet is not your living room. Please consider what you are doing, because it does reflect back on you.