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Social Networks

Social Media Strategy

Parents on Facebook – too far?

August 7, 2009

For some time now, I’ve thought that having parents as ‘friends’ on social networks was a recipe for trouble.  This has been reinforced recently as I’ve spoken to several friends and acquaintances that have shared similar stories to my own (unsolicited, I might add).  It goes something like this: “Now that my mom is on Facebook, I have to watch what I say in my status updates and monitor my wall more carefully for friends posting things I wouldn’t want her to see.”  I have found myself second-guessing what I post in my status updates now that my mom, aunt, family friends, etc. have joined Facebook and friended me.  I remember how awkward it felt when I got the friend request from mom – I debated whether to accept it or ignore it?  My cousins were friends with my mom – did that mean I was obligated to accept?  For the record, I’m friends with my mom in real life, so this isn’t some generational rebellion story.  However, I still have the mentality that there are certain things that I just don’t feel like sharing in detail with my parents.  Isn’t this typical for most people?  Aren’t some things best kept between friends?

What does this mean for Facebook?  I believe it opens the door even wider for another network/social application to sprout up and lure the ‘younger crowd’ away.  Forget about my generation (GenX), the younger Millennials are ripe for the picking, right now.  They flocked to Facebook early on and there was a sense that it was ‘their place’ – as opposed to MySpace that had become the ‘older crowd.’  Interestingly, now MySpace is seen in some circles as the ‘young crowd’ again.  So what happens next?  Will the rapid expansion of users on Facebook be its undoing?  Perhaps in the U.S., but it’s more likely that the demographics will just shift and the site will continue to thrive.  Lest we forget, Friendster was ‘dead’ in the U.S. long ago, yet continued to have explosive growth in Asia for years after the U.S. users moved on.  Maybe a more plausible scenario is that Facebook continues to infiltrate into the mainstream, while other niche networks pop up and chip off segments of their user base.

I’ll even go so far as to suggest that MySpace could reinvent itself and peel off some of the users that have migrated to Facebook over the last couple of years, or at the least become the network of choice for Millennials once again.  MySpace has killer entertainment content (Music, Video, Games, etc) – much better and more robust than Facebook, which is appealing to a younger audience.  I think it’s entirely possible for MySpace to right the ship, so to speak.  It would require a significant overhaul to clean up its image as a porn spam infested online playground, but stranger things have happened.   Highly unlikely, but possible.

Mobile access will clearly be a defining factor for the ‘next Facebook.’  Perhaps the next mass migration will be to a mobile-only network or at least one that is designed primarily for mobile devices.  Sharing quick snippets of text, video and pictures will continue to be key drivers of interest in these applications, and perhaps simplicity will be key to the success for ‘the next big thing.’  I recently installed foursquare on my iPhone, and I can see potential in this kind of application for people to stay in touch with each other and share info about what they are up to.  I can say with almost 100% certainty that my parents won’t be on foursquare at any time in the foreseeable future.  There’s something comforting in that for me.

I’m curious to hear other thoughts on what parents on Facebook means to you.  Do you think it will push the younger crowd away?  There are some signs this is already happening, but how far might it go?  Whatever your personal preference, it’s definitely something we should all keep an eye out for.

Social Media Strategy

Remember MySpace?

November 12, 2008

With all the hype around Facebook, it’s easy to forget that MySpace is still a major player in social networking.  I’ve written on this topic before, but I thought it might be good to have a quick refresher on the subject.  I ran across an article earlier that describes how Timberland launched a new initiative using MySpace to reach out to 18-34 men by aligning the brand with a popular ‘sports rapper’ – check out the article here.  I was particularly drawn to the quote about MySpace not getting the credit it deserves.  I share that sentiment and continue to encourage our clients to explore opportunities on MySpace.  Last month, we launched a MySpace program for Zoo Atlanta, and there has been an incredible amount of engagement just one month into the program.

Earlier this morning, I went onto the site to see if the new David Archuleta album was available on MySpace Music yet (yes, I admit it – I like the kid’s voice), and although the whole album is not available to stream on the site yet, what stuck out to me was the volume of comments on his MySpace page.  All of the visible comments are from today only and the page has over 45,000 comments total!  Granted, he almost won American Idol and his album came out yesterday, but the point is that there is still a huge contingent of people who are active MySpace users despite the explosive growth of Facebook.  This is especially true when music is factored into the equation.  I have yet to discover a new band on Facebook, but on MySpace it happens all the time.

Keep this in mind as you are planning your social media initiatives for 2009.  I wouldn’t leave any stone left unturned.  Some opportunities for engagement are just too important to pass up.

Social Media Strategy

Social Media’s role in the tanking Economy

October 7, 2008

It’s hard to turn on a computer, much less a television, without being inundated with messages about the gloom and doom of our current economic nightmare.  But what does that mean for the Marketing world?  One thing seems clear to me – now is NOT the time to crawl in a hole and scale back on Marketing.  To the contrary – we know from history that most companies will slash the Advertising and Marketing budgets that could turn the situation around and keep them alive.  Like a sea captain caught in a storm, the best chance of saving the ship is to turn directly into the waves.  Sure, the ride will be rough, but it’s the best strategy for survival.

Social Media and Social Network Marketing in particular has a role to play in navigating the troubled waters ahead.  Think about it – people will continue to communicate socially online, regardless of how much the Dow plummets.  Consumers might not have as much money to go out to dinner or take a vacation, but you can bet that they will spend as much or more time checking their Facebook profiles, surfing YouTube, checking out new bands on MySpace, or engaging in gaming and other applications on mobile devices.  So, this begs the question – why pull back now?  Isn’t this the time to put even MORE emphasis on Social Media?  Wouldn’t NOW be the time to show customers that you care about them and you empathize with their struggles?  Wouldn’t it be great to have positive messages about your company spreading in the midst of all the negative stuff that is spreading out there?

Going back to the fundamentals of Social Media – ask yourself what added value you can provide.  Is competitive pricing an option?  How about a contest where people have a chance to win something cool while helping others that are struggling in the process?  Can your company give a little more to charitable causes that help those most in need during rough economic times?  Remember, when times are tough, charitable organizations take a big hit, while being called upon more than ever to provide services to those in need.  If you can champion one of these causes and share this enthusiasm with your online communities, you will have gone a long way toward building goodwill and positive associations that will affect the balance sheet for years to come.

Remember, the volume of messaging will almost certainly slow down as companies scale back on ad budgets.  Seize this opportunity to double down on your Social Media efforts, or if you haven’t yet embraced it, there’s no better time than right now to get in the game!  Show your customers and potential customers that you understand the challenges they face.  They will remember your goodwill when their situation improves, and chances are they will have told a few people along the way.

Social Media Strategy

Facebook is Dead!

October 1, 2008

Could this be true a year from now?  After all, in 2006 there were plenty of ‘experts’ sounding the funeral bells of MySpace, but they seem to be getting by rather well.  If you look at the history of social networks from 2003 until today, some interesting trends can be observed.  I recently wrote a White Paper on this, and I think there is a compelling argument for taking a step back and looking at Social Networks objectively.  I address the issue of changing demographics in each network, and the attitudes of different age groups toward participation.  Check out the White Paper and let me know what you think.  

And for the record, no I do not think Facebook is Dead, nor do I think it is dying.  ☺