Impressions on the Social Age

BP Might Care, But Probably Not

Posted in Uncategorized by Trace on June 27, 2010

If you haven’t heard of it by now you’re probably living under a rock. BP Global PR on Twitter is an extremely popular parody account. Started by an anonymous person on May 19th, the account is definitely a parody, though it gives no indication of being so. Currently it has over 179,000 Followers and tweets rather humorous PR-like statements regarding the BP Oil Spill.

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This brings into question, as a PR professional, how can you control a message in this situation? Is it even possible?! The account has been up for a month now, is still active, and seems to be prospering. On the other hand, BP_America the official BP account on twitter (for… America… wanted to point that out just in case) has only 16,000 followers and is mostly an object of ridicule in the Twitterverse.

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Facebook Fans, What Are They Worth?

Posted in Social Networking Discovery by Trace on June 15, 2010

So as Facebook updates again and again, constantly revitalizing its systems to try to keep up with the landscape of the internet, we all sit there and get pissed off.

Few things have remained constant, but the idea of Liking or “Being a Fan” of something has been around long enough that people have been able to academically study it.

Recently, a social media measurement firm called Syncapse has come up with an actual dollar value and published it in a report for all to read. You probably never thought Fanning something would be of interest to a brand, you just Like them. But Syncapse studied the Fans of the top brands on Facebook and came up with some interesting conclusions.

To break the suspense, a fan is worth about $136. How do they know you ask? Well, they broke it down and thought strategically. They considered Product Spending, Loyalty, Propensity to Recommend (word-of-mouth, very important), Brand Affinity, Media Value and Acquisition Cost.

They took these metrics and studied people who were Fans of products like Skittles, Oreos, Coca-cola, Adidas, Blackberry, Victoria’s Secret or Starbucks (to name only a few) and compared them to those that were not Fans.

What did they discover when they studied these groups?

  • On average, fans spend an additional $71.84 on products for which they are fans compared to those who are not fans.
  • Fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue using the brand.
  • Fans are 41% more likely than non-fans to recommend a fanned product to their friends.

So what?

Well, this means Fans are more loyal, more likely to tell their friends about the brand (and more importantly recommend a purchase) and are more likely to buy something themselves!

Curious about more details? The must have Fan were those of McDonalds, who are frequent visitors to their establishments, are highly loyal, frequently refer others, and actively participate in the McDonald’s Facebook community. Because of all these metrics and the Fan effort the average McDonald’s fan netted the organization a value of $259.82.

Conclusion…

This is crazy! Why don’t these brands pay people, Google style, for recommending their brands? Maybe someday they will, but for now, I am going to login into my girlfriend’s Facebook account and Fan Victoria’s Secret…

Generational Differences

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 12, 2010

Recently, I read Millennial Makeover by Winograd and Hais. The book describes how politics differs with today’s younger generation, the Millennials. Millennials are positive and are likely to think they are unique and special (just like everyone else). They are likely to think they will not do as well as their parents, but are confident things will be okay. Millennials were born from 1982-2003. This generation is more liberal than conservative, supportive of gay rights (but not necessarily marriage) and are more sexually liberated than their parents – tho cognizant of the dangers. Reading the above you are probably thinking one of a few things.

  1. “Wow, that sounds just like me!”
  2. “Hey, that’s not like me at all…”
  3. “Sheesh, those generalizations sure are serious.”

I’m going to focus on the third, as that is the most relevant to my thoughts here. Reading this book, my thoughts are immediately conflicted. Firstly, I think of many of these as descriptions of my own character. After all, my mother told me I was special often, and I am confident everything will be okay, even if I know I will never get social security… However, the idea that we can be grouped into 20 year groups of similarity was distressing.

There are many differences to our upbringing over the others, and I’ve never been more conscious of this since starting internships and job hunting. Many months back, when I started my Masters program, classmates, professors and colleagues would ask me the seminal question, “What do you want to DO?”

This was my least favorite question. Ever. I was always confused. The job market isn’t a prix fixe, it’s a buffet. As far as I am concerned, the better question has always been, “What don’t you want to do?”

For example, if people ask you your favorite food when you’ve only had one meal how could you give a proper answer? If one thing is holding us together as a generation, aside from the girl power and gay pride, its the guarantee that we will all have multiple careers. Gone are the days when an employee starts at the bottom and works up to CEO. Instead, we millennials will find careers that fit as we grow. When we’ve filled the box we’re in, we’ll move to a new box and begin to fill again.

My point? Lets define our generation with positivity and acceptance, but also recognize that we NEED our positivity. We need to believe that our careers do not define us, but through our career we can create definitions that keep us happy, learning, and excited.

OFA progress goes, “Oof!”

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 11, 2010

Since electing the most wired President in history – and I’m not talking about the coffee & nicotine –Obama for America Campaign has become Organizing for America (OFA) and subsequently lost its mojo. After Obama’s victory lap and OFA’s absorbtion into the DNC fundraising machine; it became just another mindless direct-mail system. Asking us to spend small amounts of money and sending us email after email after email after email after email. Which is why we all left MoveOn.org in the first place.

The DNC took the OFA and transformed them into the Borg. For those of you that missed the cultural staple that is Star Trek the Next Generation (STNG): the Borg were not a Swedish rock band, but a race of beings that valued the collective over the individual. The Borg assimilated humans & aliens alike, implanting strange lasers, giant metal chest pieces and leg augmentations that looked painful and generally impeded their forward motion. The Borg were the symbol of synergy and collectivism to the point of degradation of any excitement and emotion. Your MBA professor would be thrilled. These part-man part-machine beings were emotionless, grey and did what was best for the collective, often sacrificing their own humanity (alienity?) to serve the hive-mind.

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Facebook Sells Your Profile

Posted in Social Networking Discovery by Trace on June 7, 2010

Recently, a friend of mine graduated from college interviewed with a large DC tank. This girl is Facebook savvy and keeps out both “The Man” and “Strangers” using the strictest privacy settings possible. As she says, “If I’m not friends with you, then all you know is I exist.”

For an aspiring job hunter in the nation’s capitol, she’s made the right online privacy decisions, right? Wrong.

My friend made three major mistakes. She friended her professional references on Facebook. She assumed her privacy settings actually protected her. And she didn’t anticipate her Facebook security guards were looking for a little extra cash.

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The Hint Caravan

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 7, 2010

Understanding the Internet is more than reading a book or playing Farmville. This, the five guys that wrote the Cluetrain Manifesto understand. While they admit they don’t understand the true purpose of the web – “telephones are for talking to people… what’s the web for.”

This ten-year anniversary addition almost doubles the original book published in 2000. IT contains new information discovered since the before our Web 2.0 generation. Back in 2000, before the popularity of the social web, before Facebook, MySpace or Twitter had taken over the bandwidth this book said something outrageous. “Markets are conversations.”

This simple idea was a revolution in 2000, and the Internet was the best driving force behind these conversations. Today, we take this idea for granted. The idea that outside of a barbershop or store aisle we the consumers can have a true conversation regarding the products or policies of our favorite providers.

Unlike some of my other posts, today I felt this book is too important to pick apart. It’s an Eastern philosophy of the internet. The authors looked at the Internet how an Amish person might design an Internet scheme. I read earlier this month how the Web increases our hand-eye coordination but decreases our critical thinking. This book is fantastic for those who have never thought critically about webspace. For those of us that who have, it becomes more of a How-to-explain book. It’s more of a crash course of more of an eastern school web.

Just Another Obama Campaign Commentary

Posted in Reading Response, Social Networking Discovery by Trace on June 2, 2010

In the 2008 election, Obama and the media had no love lost between them (practically speaking) in comparison to his opposition (both during the primary and the general elections). This was in part supported by Obama’s media-buy being twice as much as others. (Source: Edelman Digital, January 2009)

During the 2008 Obama’s internet communications strategy aimed at concrete, focused and measurable goals, this is something all communications campaigns must do. Measurement to ensures reproduction.

“Even with the relatively vast resources at hand, Obama’s internet communications staff built carefully, innovated only as needed, and invested in projects that seemed to have a real chance of paying off in time to win.” says Delany in Learning from Obama on ePolitics101.

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We’ve Got Your Number: Mobile Campaign Strategy

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 26, 2010

These days, everyone has a shortcode and some type of bandwagon-style promotion, (Text PORK to 234O2 and get a free HAM!) But the question isn’t availability, it’s viability. Why should your company or your campaign go through the trouble of a mobile campaign? The short answer, because there are 4.6 billion mobile phones worldwide which means a potential for 4.6 billion impressions, donations or contacts.

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Mind Is Blown, Then Content-Aware Filled

Posted in Social Networking Discovery by Trace on May 25, 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5 was recently made available to the public. After watching this video…

I downloaded the CS5 free trial and played with the new content-aware deletion and spot-brush features. Needless to say, I was absolutely excited and amazed.

I spent about 10 minutes playing with various photos and then downloaded a random Facebook photo from a friends feed and began to see what I could delete. 20 minutes later I had deleted 10 or 11 things from the photo below. Can you spot them all?!

Click on the image to zoom

The mind-blowing thing here is, I am not a Photoshop Expert. I’ve never taken a PS class. I’ve played with it for many years, but always considered myself at an Intermediate level. If a mid-level untrained photo editor can remove items from a low-quality Facebook photo, what kind of creations could a professional make?

Now thinking about the future… *KABLOOIE!* Mind. Is. Blown.

Bai Bai Birdie

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 24, 2010

Reading The Argument by Matt Bai this week reminded me of reading another verbose publication. Then I realized Bai worked for the other, the New York Times. I enjoyed Bai’s book, it was an interesting topic and is a relevant book for those interested in working with politics. It’s important (and fun) to learn the behind-the-scenes of a political sphere, but when looking at the old democrats we can always find lots of interesting characters. Speaking of characters, I enjoyed how Bai often used literary designs usually relegated to the fictional writer to describe non-fiction characters; some of whom are still quite prominent in media and politics.

Bai’s book was far from an eye opener, and closer to a narrative, but the book itself described many considerations sometimes readily apparent to the casual political observer. For example, people are more important that constituency. When asked who influences politicians, its not just the people of the district, state or country who elected the officials, but often other officials, lobbyists, friends and colleagues.

This comes as no surprise to many of us, but the reasoning behind it (while not surprising) is not often put forth. Insecurity. Doubt. Confusion. Not to say politicians are stupid, but they are people. In our society of strong media personalities, public relations, media relations and highly sensationalized and celebritized figures, it’s strange to think that famous Americans are just another odd kid in a suit.

My favorite part of the book was the exposure of these celebrity leaders as not just politicians with talking points, but people who can be influenced by direct and purposeful information. People who can be spoken to like any other, befriended like any other, and argued with like any other.

As I like to tell my friends, “Even Obama has sit on the toilet to take a poop.”