The social space online changes rapidly. Feedback stays on top of emerging media news so you don’t have to. Here are the must-read social media articles of the week of August 14, 2011. Read More
Tonight Facebook will debut an entirely new Facebook Profile during an interview on 60 Minutes (which explains why Facebook was weirdly encouraging all Facebook users to watch the show late in the week).
The update itself is a welcome overhaul of the look of the basic profile, drawing the viewer into a more image-related experience (such as your favorite authors rendered as their Page icons rather than words – thankfully you can edit the priority of the images shown now, not just a random sample of “Liked” elements as before).
It also brings a few new tricks – or at least tricks new to Facebook that might remind you of a few other social sites. One such feature: “Highlighting” your top connections. As they say themselves:
Relationships with close friends can be just as important as family. Now you can highlight family members and the other key people in your life, like your best friends or coworkers — all right on your profile.
Sounds an awful lot like MySpace’s Top 8, eh? I can imagine the arguments already as we shuffle our best friends, kids, spouses and drinking buddies in a furious drive to avoid conflicts…
This “highlighting” comes from a tweak to the Friends List feature, allowing you to share your Friend Lists more like Twitter Lists. This makes your curated personal lists to potentially become a way for you to find similar interests, people, etc. (The new Facebook List features are well profiled at the blog Stayi N’ Alive.) Of course, you can never share your Lists and there’s a bevy of privacy controls to go with the new options.
There are lost of other smaller changes. My particular favorite is the “Projects” you can add under your employers – drawing attention to what you’ve worked on and who with, giving an interesting kind of due and credit to a particular idea or execution.
To see the new features and immediately update your own profile, visit: http://www.facebook.com/about/profile/
See the Facebook video on the changes here:
And to see the 60 Minutes Interview, see the two parts embedded here at Business Insider with some comentary on how Zuck came across.
A couple weeks ago, just prior to hopping on a bus for a cross-country tour, I fell in love with OneTrueFan.com. Now that some of the initial hype has died down, I thought I’d share how my first week with it went.
You should first know that this thing kind of blew my mind at first.
The canned description is that this is Foursquare for the Internets. In other words, a way to “check in” at just any ol’ website as you surf, thereby communicating where you go and tagging you as a “fan” of frequently visited sites and therefore the, “one true fan” of sites you’ve visited more than anyone else (like Foursquare’s, “mayor”). It also has patches/badges for browsing accomplishments and a point system that builds by visiting and sharing pages through Twitter, Facebook and more. It’s easy to lazily make this the web’s analog to Foursquare. It can be a lot more than that.
Step back from the mechanics, which require a downloaded plug-in for your browser, and you can see that in some ways this turns web analytics a bit on its head – in fact it reverses the magnifying glass, showing you the interesting detail beyond your simple history. It really forces you to take a different look at your browsing culture and personal identification.
As Co-Founder Eric Marcoullier (@bpm140) reflected openly in a Twitter conversation with me:
I pretty much always look at who visited the page before I read the article now. The context is fascinating.
During my first week I really stayed open with my browsing. I installed the One True Fan plug-in on my main browser and allowed auto-check-ins on basically every site I visited (in full disclosure I did hide check-ins on exactly three sites, for client sensitivity reasons). Doing this while on the AGLA Hiring Heroes tour was particularly interesting since my check-ins ricocheted between scheduling which tiny town we’d be in from Dallas to Los Angeles and keeping up with news and work from the world outside the bus.
There’s a stat dashboard I don’t visit very often, but does contain some sample activity:
And here’s the bar that subtly appears at the bottom of websites – it’s small at first but when moused-over shows:
I too found myself checking who else had been there, both from a crowd-sense and a breadcrumb sense. It doesn’t just include anyone with a OneTrueFan.com plug-in, but also anyone sharing these sites on Twitter, Facebook and more (lots more, coming soon, they promise). Yes, there are privacy concerns (that can be easily assuaged with just NOT sharing site visits or un-checking “auto check-in”) but it still makes for an interesting personal if not public experiment.
Consider how this lens, of our internet life, combines with other lenses. How our patterns and likes, our real-world favorites and virtual world favorites begin to make up our personal identity. Consider the generational differences and how OneTrueFan.com data could illuminate our perceptions of demographics… The mind blows.
Business, healthcare & higher education institutions… what if you could actually identify who your biggest fans were?
For more on One True Fan, here’s video of Eric from their Disrupt 2010 presentation:
OneTrueFan.com is in private alpha right now…
Harrisburg University blocks students and faculty from using all forms of social media for one week (on computers):
Inside Higher Ed reports on Harrisburg University’s plan to shut down all forms of social media on campus for one week. Provost, Eric Darr has decided to block student and faculty access to social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and AOL instant messenger. He is also disabling wiki and chat features which will make it impossible for students and teachers to communicate and collaborate using the campus’ intranet system, even from off-campus computers.
Darr says, “It’s not that, as an institution, we hate Facebook,” Darr told Inside Higher Ed. Instead, he wanted to see what would happen if colleagues and classmates were forced to talk instead of IM, to walk to offices and dorm rooms instead of emailing. He wondered if people had forgotten how to communicate face-to-face rather than online.
Mr. Darr, how are you going to block access to social media through cell phone usage? Are the cell towers clipped for the week? Dean Browell with Feedack comments on the article,
“There’s a disturbing angle to all of this that smacks of assumptions. Two of the four channels they propose to shut down are in drastic decline among their demographic (AOL, MySpace) and as other commenters have pointed out, the other two channels don’t require the campus system at all to operate. They sell $100 iPhones at Wal-Mart people, they haven’t needed your computer labs to get on Facebook for years. Twitter is utilized by a diverse demographic even through an inexpensive, non-smart-phone via text messaging.”
We look forward to the results of this experiment.
iPads in the Classroom:
Notre Dame’s assistant professor Corey Angst is taking his class paperless, and in a pretty fun way. His class is first and only class taught with Apple iPads. All 40 students get to use iPads in place of textbooks and other learning materials during the course. This is part of a year long study of e-readers by the University. Angst explained,
“We want to know whether students feel the iPads are useful and how they plan to use them. I want them to tell me, ‘I found this great app that does such and such. I want this to be organic…We have an online Wiki discussion group where students can share their ideas.”
They are hoping the iPad’s will help students manage real world projects, and will help the university enhance the educational experience.
Survey says social media is less expensive and yields significant result in higher education:
Lipman Hearne and CASE partnered together to survey 212 CASE member institutions to research how marketing dollars are being spent in higher education and the return on that investment. Institutions that have integrated strategic social media campaigns with traditional marketing/advertising efforts have seen a wide margin of positive results. Key findings are significant and provide powerful real time success stories. Moderate-to-heavy users of social media were actually spending less overall per student on marketing activities. The moderate-to-heavies spent $83 per student, and the light-to-non-users spent $121 per student. Visit the blog and survey report for more data and key findings.
Higher Education Checks Into Foursquare:
Several Universities are leading the way with geolocation checkins. The University of Oregon, for example, incorporated Foursquare into their Welcome Week student tours. Friending the Oregon Duck and checking into 10 locations on the tour earned students a badge and 20% off at Oregon Ducks Sportsware. Another example is The University of Nebraska at Omaha. They have a microsite in conjunction with Foursquare that provides deals and encourages students to visit alcohol free businesses in the area. Harvard is another great example. They were one of the first colleges to embrace Foursquare with custom badges. Perry Hewitt, director of digital communications and communications services at Harvard, explained
“Harvard is more than classrooms and buildings. It is an interconnected community of people, ideas, and experiences, and we are actively pursuing ways to enhance those connections.”
Higher Ed Cartoon:
A snarky cartoon (sadly, mostly accurate) ridiculing the tone-deaf design of many college home pages, published on July 30 on the website xkcd and circulated widely in social media circles and on campuses:
About a week before xkcd published its cartoon, the higher ed consulting firm Noel-Levitz released a study of how prospective students are using colleges’ websites, based on more than 1,000 responses from college-bound high-schoolers.
Key findings include:
- 1 in 4 students reported removing a school from their prospective list because of a bad experience on that school’s Web site.
- 92 percent said that they would be disappointed with a school or remove it entirely from their lists if they didn’t find the information they needed on the school’s Web site.
- 76 percent of students supported schools creating their own private social networks for prospective students.
Team embarking on new client work in Europe, Caribbean and a cross-country tour
RICHMOND, VA – When the clock strikes midnight on September 8, Feedback, a social media research and consulting group, will have completed a whirlwind first year that included two dozen new clients in 16 states, tripling the team size at the Richmond offices, acceptance into Worldwide Partners Inc. (the world’s largest owner-operated global agency network), and some of the biggest speaking engagements of the founders’ careers in a variety of industries.
Immediately after the 8th, Feedback embarks on a new year that includes clients in Europe, the Caribbean and South America, their second cross-country tour for a new national client, new office space and new employees.
Feedback is proud to announce a tremendously successful first year as well as the hiring of Jeff Kelley as Senior Experience Strategist, Brad Carr as Technology Specialist, and Brittney Trimmer as Experience Specialist. Kelley comes to Feedback from the public relations world, and previously served four years as a business and technology reporter with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He is also the force behind the Richmond satire web magazine Tobacco Avenue.
“Our first year was not only full of crucial initial milestones, it completed many goals we had set for future years as well,” said Feedback CEO Jeff Thompson. “To take this from a glimmer to operating internationally in twelve months has been a fantastic journey, and we look forward to breaking more records in year two.”
Executive Vice President Dean Browell, who helped found Feedback with a PhD emphasizing generational differences online, added: “Hitting our philosophical goals were as important as hitting our financial ones. We have an incredible team of intelligent, creative people that work hard and play hard with the support of great partners and friends that do the same. Clients love that we love what we do, and that’s what you get when you combine results, expertise and passion.”
Feedback, Inc has proudly differentiated itself with social media strategy formed from a research context, applying ethnographic research in the social space beyond simply Facebook and Twitter. A combination of high-level, research-informed strategies leading into expert implementation to complement and enhance marketing and PR efforts is why clients and agencies from around the world have contacted Feedback since it was formed in September 2009 by Jeff Thompson, Dean Browell and Experience Manager Anna Lucas. Because Feedback often operates behind the scenes, contact Feedback directly for client names we can share.
Some things are simply inevitable.
The sun will come up.
Charles Barkley will say something unintentionally hilarious.
Facebook will emulate what it doesn’t buy.
On the latter point, Wednesday evening Facebook debuted Places. The premise and execution of Facebook Places is remarkably similar to the first two sentences anyone may use to describe any number of check-in applications: It’s a way to share your actual location with others online; it also allows you to observe where others have checked in. Where many other applications seek to go from that starter definition, be it MyTown with games, Foursquare with tips, Gowalla with stickers, or ShopKick with deals, Facebook has simply stopped limply (but maybe effectively) at the first point of entry.
There’s a few other tricks to Facebook Places, and the following video, dripping with a sincerity that suggests they have suddenly figured out something others haven’t, demonstrates them:
Also inevitable is that Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal will be given a test run before most other humans. Unlike his usually predictably estatic review of Apple products (generally done in time for Steve Jobs to use an actual Mossberg quote as a part of his Keynote presentations), Walt was actually a bit matter-of-fact about Facebook Places. Not cold or harsh, just… well, “Meh” would probably be the most effusive meta-adjective I’d use.
This is because what may become the most short-term-advantageous thing about Places is what it does for others, including those other check-in services. The APIs that could come streaming out could hook into and help fuel the growth of any number of companies Facebook as threatened or tried to buy recently, several of whom (Gowalla, Foursquare and Yelp) actually appeared in some form on stage with Facebook for Places’ debut. And yes, businesses can claim their “Place” via a Page as we and others mused months ago.
And what about long-term? Well you can better believe Facebook didn’t debut this to merely dip a toe in. Cross-platform geo-location ads, sacks of data on visitations and total domination of the “place” space is clearly a mid-term goal. Actual quote from Zuckerberg: “…certainly you can imagine these things in the future.”
We have been recently musing on the concept of “place” (including, “How Location Could Change The Future of Pages” last March) insofar as the web toys with tying itself to real-world geographies and the inherent opportunity and fear laden in those watching this wrestling match happen. But one thing we’ve always said about Facebook — their nearest, truest competitor in a spiritual sense was never MySpace, but Windows. They want to be the start, constant and end of the web for many people — the entry point in. And for many, they are. So now marry location ontop of that and you can begin to see how powerful they could become for the general public. For and to the general public, I should say. Being in Facebook, as a valid location that people actually visit in real life as well as “Like” could become the equivalent of having your name and address in the phone book in the 80′s and being a store that’s in the Mall. You want to be “seen” there- and now you can, by friends who aren’t even nearby to see you.
This, of course, begs the privacy question. But if we rest for a moment and assume that this is about who you allow to see your location, we can hopefully still talk about “place” and Facebook’s role in it in a rational fashion. I could choose to not tell a single friend where I was on Facebook and still find it incredibly valuable to know that a restaurant I hear about in Richmond, VA called “Strange Matter” has been visited by several of my friends, I could reference it in a Status Update and get real recommendations of what to eat there and tips such as bringing your own quarters for the vintage arcade games. 3/4 of that scenario already happened pre-Places, but now I could potentially verify that it’s a cool place that several of my less chatty friends have also patronized recently. It becomes an early indicator for me in a single search, allowing me then to pursue more info through other means (Yelp reviews, call-outs for other recommendations on Twitter, etc.).
Facebook Places doesn’t change the game as much as it does solidify it, make it whole and, likely, make it ubiquitous. What it does more than really innovate is fire a cannon in a battle previously fought by slingshots as it brings its half-a-billion active audience into the check-in game. But don’t be distracted by the battle to see whose or what type of check-in system wins. Instead, start to look ahead, with us, at what this will mean for the intersection of real and web location in the years ahead.
UPDATED August 19, 2010: Not that Facebook Places is available in #RVA just yet. #Fail #FacebookPlaces, #Fail.
One last note: Notice that Places logo? As TechCrunch points out: “It’s a 4. In a Square. Yeah.“
Smart marketing doesn’t cost money, it makes money.
Is there a direct correlation between integrating social media campaigns in higher education and increased quality enrollment and dollars raised? According to real time success stories and the survey report, “Wondering what works? The changing marketing mix in higher education” from Lipman Hearne and CASE, the answer is a resounding YES. Institutions that have integrated strategic social media campaigns with traditional marketing/advertising efforts have seen a wide margin of positive results.
Lipman Hearne and CASE partnered together to survey 212 CASE member institutions including liberal arts colleges, master’s level universities, research institutions, community colleges and a number of independent primary and secondary schools. The research reveals significant data centered around marketing dollars spent and positive ROI when campaigns include social media strategies.
- Investors in research and planning were more likely to deploy more – and more varied – marketing efforts.
The extra effort seems to be paying off: Of those moderate to heavy investors, 71 percent reported that marketing efforts had a positive impact on the quality of their applicants.
- Print publications aren’t dead
Data reveals that an increase in spending on interactive media (such as web microsites, online tours, student blogs, etc.) does not appear to be coming at the expense of print publications.
- Between FY ’08 and FY ’09, 55 percent of institutions surveyed allocated more to interactive; and 52 percent allocated more to social media
Moderate-to-heavy investors in interactive were more likely than average to report a positive impact on website hits, enrollment yield, quality of applicants, total philanthropic giving and the percentage of alumni who give.
- Those who were putting social media eggs in their basket were not only keeping that basket diversified – they were also bolstering their interactive marketing spending.
The moderate-to-heavy users of social media were actually spending less overall per student on marketing activities. The moderate-to-heavies spent $83 per student, and the light-to-non-users spent $121 per student.
- When comparing institutions that worked with outside firms on specific activities with institutions that went solo, data revealed that having outside partners made a difference.
Institutions that partnered with outside firms for digital advertising saw more positive results on enrollment yield (88 percent compared to 67 percent) … and positive total giving results (76 percent compared to 49 percent).
For the full report, please click here.
It’s important to note that implementing a “strategic social media campaign” does not equal, “Let’s create a Facebook page and Twitter account and recycle our press releases online.” First, ask yourself some key questions: Are your target audiences even on Facebook and Twitter? How are your target audiences using social medial channels? What are the institution’s goals in utilizing social media channels? Is it to improve your image, increase number of enrollments, increase the caliber of applications, increase the number of dollars raised for the annual fund, raise money for a capital campaign? What about other social media channels, like YouTube and LinkedIn?
A strategic social media campaign should include extensive research to determine appropriate strategies to achieve desired outcomes.
“… the longstanding notion that colleges can carefully shape and control their public image is antiquated.” – President Brian Rosenberg, Macalaster College
Like it or not, with the influx of new media and viral marketing, higher education can no longer control its message or perception. In essence, hardly anyone can control public perception anymore. What organizations can do, however, is try to influence that message and communicate/market in the most strategic/effective way.
After working in higher education myself for over ten years, I think it’s safe to say the means of communication and marketing has changed … an obvious understatement. From marketing the institution to prospective students, to communicating with current students/faculty/staff to engaging with younger and older alumni alike, higher education institutions have had a difficult time embracing new media to attract and sustain communication with their constituents.
Higher education marketing and communication strategies must adapt to stay afloat and compete in today’s economy. How many print brochures do you think the average junior/senior in high school receives from prospective colleges and universities? If you stripped away the college logo and tagline, could you decipher major differences between the marketing materials and what they are trying to “sell?” How many juniors/seniors in high school read the newspaper … in print? Remember your audiences and respect how they are communicating in today’s world.
Luanne Lawrence, Vice President of University Advancement at Oregon State University said in response to their new media campaign, “Powered by Orange,”
“It’s scary to relinquish control of your message. But when you build a loyal community, it does your work for you.”
Right now, my two favorite social media campaigns for higher ed are yielding amazing results. Oregon State University’s social media campaign caters more towards prospective students and influencing the reputation of the university by including all constituents. The campaign launched last spring. School enrollment has soared, first-time donations by alumni were up and visits to the OSU website grew exponentially.
Macalaster College happened into a social media frenzy. A seemingly innocent self-parodying video on YouTube, “President’s Day at Macalester College” initially designed to attract and engage alumni, ended up reaching over 55,000 viewers. Annual fund donations spiked. The self-proclaimed non-technology savvy college president had a change of heart. President Brian Rosenberg of Macalester College had never blogged, tweeted, and he wasn’t on Facebook. He learned first-hand how new forms of social media “have more potential to connect audiences across both generational and geographic boundaries than do virtually all previous forms of communication.”
This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s reality. Pay attention to your audiences. Embrace new media … and accept the fact that the old adage of “controlling your message” is obsolete.
- Heather (@hmillar13)
A must-read article, “Facebook Unleashes Open Graph Search Engine, Declares War On Google” from AllFacebook.com shows how the search worm is turning inside of Facebook, with the importance of “Like” rising as a key variable in search — at least inside of Facebook. This is dreadfully important as a concept.
This very change, as small and undramatic as it has been incorporated, provides a fantastic look into the future of search and the contextual web. Consider how the open display of credibility and validation will change how we find information. We already see the results of that, in theory, in how search already plays out. We assume that the relevance determined by the wizard behind the Google curtain with every click of a “search” button.
Is there an assumed trust that all of those people who find this useful or like something are being sincere and are for real? Certainly, just as we assume when we search now that what appears first is truly relevant (paid ads aside – not that the first unpaid ad hasn’t ostensibly paid to be listed high via optimizing, etc.). AllFacebook.com wonders aloud about “like baiting” as well, but in some ways that still feels less nefarious than engineering a page that has no business showing up so high in a ranking to appear first, even if it actually has no relevance– a practice that happens every day in our typical search.
But then imagine how the actual display of the relevance, such as number of likes, incorporates the, “Is This Review Useful”-ization of the web. In some ways it’s fundementally taking the algorithm away from tinkerers and into the hands of motivated consumers — for good or ill. (And I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, just fascinated that and how it’s happening.) Facebook wants to create a “social semantic search engine” that essentially runs off of the interactions of people as relevance fuel, not meta data tricks. This very urge and their platform and critical mass of interactions in which to try it means we will have a lot to chew on in the near future as the underpinnings of information display in search give way to new supports.
Google’s caching Tweets and displaying in some first searches. Facebook is listing by Like. Where will we be next year as sentiment creeps not just into our results, but into the algorithm itself?
First off: No unicorns.
The analogy of a unicorn is one I’ve been using for awhile. Even though my company specializes in social media, one of the very first things we try to impress on anyone we work with is to stop treating it like it’s so special. So unique. So weirdly fantastic. Because the more we romanticize it, the more unattainable and unusual it feels. The more we trick ourselves into essentially not understanding it. It becomes this amazing unicorn, and while we stare at it up on the hill, we barely notice all of the unicorns standing at the bottom of the hill around us.
So many professionals have spent so much time fearing or idolizing social media that they’ve failed to notice how ubiquitous and “baked in” it has become. With all of the navel-gazing, they failed to realize that everyone else had incorporated social media into their daily lives, into every interaction. Perhaps it was never that separate for the average consumer to begin with. Suddenly surveys are splitting hairs about whether people “use” social media to make X or Y decisions without noticing that everyone’s using a form of social media for every decision—they just aren’t bothering to CALL it “social media.” Anymore than I say, “I am about to write my friend an electronic mail which I will thrust through the internets in order to communicate thoughts from afar!” The idea of social media is NOT new. Anymore than AOL messageboards or phone party lines are new.
Which brings us to place.
Currently there’s quite a lot of buzz over “check-in” applications such as Foursquare, PlacePop, SCVNGR, Gowalla and Hot Potato. People stumble a bit in sometimes claiming that this wave of geolocation is somehow the start of the trend, but it’s myopic to claim geolocation is in its infancy. It’s certainly not when you consider how long Google Maps, Google Reviews, Brightkite and Mapquest has been around. We have to be careful to not ignore the emphasis that GPS and place has had on search in the last ten years and only focus on the Foursquare vs Gowalla.
By treating geolocation as so special we bundle its effects into something to lift up or be scared of. We watch as institutions wonder aloud whether they should partake in it… as though the only way to partake was to dive completely in. I think there’s some low-hanging fruit that worth pointing out to both the managers struggling with what Foursquare is and the C-suite who may be unusually enamored or scared of it. It’s simply worth just taking the time to ensure that your college buildings, hospital, wellness centers, retail locations, etc. are just listed in these apps. With Foursquare in particular, someone has to add a location- they aren’t automatically there like in SCVNGR (which is pre-populated with Google Places data) or MyTown (which uses CityPages). Nevermind if you have the money or inclination to engage, do sponsored badges, etc. – but are you even listed so that someone could check in? Or perhaps listed incorrectly? Are you there and people are already talking about you? A good analogy is really the old use of the phone book. There’s buying into a Yellow Pages ad program, but there’s also just making sure you appear in it and appear correctly.
But if we treat geolocation as a unicorn, we miss the opportunity to simply be found. And when did we treat our address as so special?
The apps themselves are often more in tune with the shortcomings of locations than the locations themselves are. In our recent research on event tourism with the a music festival we found some interesting benefits and problems with Bonnaroo’s official use of Foursquare (we’ll be elaborating a bit on the blog and in a full-throated report soon, free to our clients) while other check-in apps didn’t even have a single central location to check-in at.
PlacePop worked diligently to try and add one when we spoke to them, and kudos for them for taking the effort and responding to Feedback’s open worry, but what would have simply helped was for the institution of a massive music festival that becomes Tennessee’s fourth-largest city in a weekend to have taken the initiative to simply have their address in the phone-book that is the top 5-10 apps.
There’s much more, from ensuring our photos and videos are properly associated with place and more… The concept of place is so much bigger than just check-ins. It’s someone needing something and asking a search engine of any sort, be it the augmented reality view of a camera phone held aloft to simply a Google Maps search from an iPhone. We’ve recently seen maternity wards being reviewed on apps like Yelp, traditionally the app of restaurants, for goodness sakes! How long before we realize the consumer isn’t waiting for the institution to get on board or not?
The overall issue of place is as old as the phone book. It’s as old as maps. It’s as old as grave markers of any sort. The check-in-app of old was simply the letter sent back home to tell family that we made it to the new land. Now I let select friends know I’ve landed with a click, or I can flip through the virtual catalog of places, opinions, ideas and opportunities, without having to write or interact myself, just to find a great place to eat, or raise a family, or hear some music.
So. Beware of unicorns. :)