Tag Archives: Online Communities

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One of the best things about digital media is that it’s an open platform.

No-Troll

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Anyone can plug in and begin producing content or commenting on content that others have posted.  Often those comments can be an interesting or insightful as the original article.  They can also serve to provide balance when a “news” piece strays too far from the facts.  I like reading comments most of the time and I appreciate those of you who take the time to add your thinking to mine here on the screed.

Unfortunately, there are those who use the ability to piggyback on the audiences good content attracts for other purposes.  Here alone, spammers post dozens of fake comments with links back to their crap every day (WordPress has a built-in spam block that works exceptionally well).   Elsewhere, trolls try to take over conversations, so the comments become a soapbox for rants against one party or politician or another no matter what the subject matter of the original story.  It’s not just blog or news sites that suffer this – think about your own friends on Facebook or Twitter – seen any flame wars?

There are softwares that do moderation but they lack nuance and Im’ not sure they can fact-check a politely written bit of utter nonsense.  Research has shown that an environment filled with negative comments can influence readers’ perceptions of the underlying subject matter negatively even when the piece is very neutral.  What does one do?  It’s not an easy answer.  When we grappled with this issue many years ago as commenting became common, the solution my team went with involved, committed community members on a sort of neighborhood watch.  We enabled certain folks who made insightful comments to alert us to issues and eventually even allowed some of them to block and edit to keep a safe, sane environment.

I think that’s about all we can do and still remain transparent while fostering conversation.  People will have issues with your product or service and sometimes they’ll be very loud about their displeasure if it’s unwarranted.  There’s not much one can do when that negativity is expressed via social shares that aren’t on your page but for the places under your control, encouraging polite, factual discourse can be a boost to readership as well as to your credibility and authenticity.  That’s what I try to do here and what I try to get my clients to do as well.  What do you do?  Please comment (gulp!).

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Is Facebook Becoming A Ghost Town?

How many of you are familiar with Facebook?  OK, silly question.  After all, it’s the biggest social media site.  Let’s try again.

"Ghost" Town - NARA - 543356

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many of you are familiar with Wanelo, Vine, Snapchat, Kik, or 4chan?  If you have a teen in the house, you might be, since these are, according to a Piper Jaffray study, the social sites in which teen interest is rapidly growing.  Final question:  how many of you are familiar with, and used to frequent, Friendster, MySpace, or Second Life?  Emphasis on the “used to” since they’re pretty much gone.

If I was a Facebook shareholder (which I’m not), I’d be very concerned.  Not just about a couple of things I’m going to mention but also about management’s plans to grow revenues.  Let me explain.

First, the research.  According to Tech Crunch’s reporting of the aforementioned study:

Interest in Facebook seems to be declining heavily among teens. Though teens still dub Facebook their most important social network, Piper Jaffray reports that the numbers are down regarding how many teens see Facebook as the most important social media website. Over the past year, the number of teens who deem Facebook as the most important social media site has dropped from more than 30 percent to just over 20 percent.

I realize teens are fickle, but they’re also trendsetters in a lot of ways.  They’re also a notoriously difficult group to reach via ads, and the social media chatter about brands—positive or negative—is a big factor in their purchasing decisions.  Which leads to my second concern.

AdAge reported on Facebook’s plans to insert video ads in users’ news feeds:

While the format of the units isn’t totally nailed down, it’s widely assumed that they’ll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users’ screens on the desktop version of Facebook.

It won’t matter if the user or any of his or her friends have engaged with the brand on Facebook.  Users will at most see three ads a day. Now I will shut almost any site that autoplays video, especially if it’s advertising.  Let’s think about how strong the user backlash is going to be if the autoplay report is accurate, and will that backlash spill over to affect the sponsors as well as Facebook?  It just might.

One doesn’t have to look too far into the future to see the beginnings of a ghost town in the making.  If a town’s young citizens are moving away for greener pastures, can businesses and their parents be too far behind?  What do you think?

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Got FOMO? Get A Life.

I was catching up with a business associate the other day.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

He recently split up with his significant other, which took me by surprise and made me sad.  The reason was a case of terminal FOMO.  She couldn’t be “there” even when she was.  If you don’t know that term, it’s been used of late to describe Fear Of Missing Out .  I think the term began with people missing parties or other great events but is now commonly used with respect to the never-ending stream of electronic communications that flood our daily lives.  Emails, Facebook updates, texts, tweets, Instagram photos – you know the drill.  Many of us can’t turn away from the stream.  As this article noted:

(FOMO) is a very real feeling that’s starting to permeate through our social relationships. The question is — will we ever settle for what we have, rather than cling to the fear that we may be missing out on something better? Social media like Facebook and Twitter are making this increasingly more difficult.

I’d expand that notion to business emails as well.  I’ve written before about how we all have some form of digitally induced ADD.  We’re so concerned about missing out on something in our screen-based worlds that we ignore the important stuff right in front of us.  Conversations (the oral kind) with friends and family.  Enjoying a beautiful sunset or a musical performance without worrying about if the shot you’re taking to post is in focus or composed nicely.  I wonder about the effect of social networking and texting on the development of emotional and social intelligence. A whole generation has grown up thinking it’s normal to not be particularly present during a face to face conversation.  I can’t get used to people checking their phones in a meeting, much less at dinner.

I’m old school enough to remember the world pre-email, much less pre-social media.  There seemed to me enough time to think about things carefully as well as to enjoy the conversations (in person or via the telephone) and the quiet in between.  Obviously I appreciate the things all these technologies bring to us – efficiency, real marketing engagement, immediacy among them – but like ice cream and wine, too much isn’t so good for you.

If there’s a business point today, it’s to encourage those with whom you work to be a little less connected digitally and a lot more connected IRL – in real life.  Try it yourself.  As this recent piece asks – is it time to wean yourself off the smartphone?  Maybe for a little while each day?  What do you think?

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Nuance

Does anyone remember nuance?

Emoticon logo Title

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You know – the subtle differences that are out there in the non-virtual world.  Maybe it’s why some folks see Azure, Cyan, or Turquoise while others just see Blue.  Nuance is why some people who can read the words really can’t understand the meaning of what they’ve read.  It’s for sure why some managers have issues with their staff and peers – they can’t hear the nuances in tone that are so critical in interpersonal communications.

I worry about nuance from time to time.  Most of the communication we all seem to have these days is via the written word – email, social posts, and texts.  None of those things have nuance.  I think that’s in part where emoticons came from.  They can help add nuance to social posts (and are totally inappropriate for business communications, kids).  I also think that we all have been on these lengthy email chains from time to time because someone is missing the nuance in one of the notes.  Ever wonder why a brief phone call or in person meeting resolves the back and forth issues?  Nuance.

It’s not just written stuff that lacks nuance.  A lot of the evolving social scoring or influence measurement totally misses the nuance of influence.  Two of the most influential people in my life can barely turn on a computer and are invisible on the social web.  They have neither Facebook nor Twitter nor other social accounts.  The people who are influencers in my life that are online don’t have tons of followers or friends.  I checked one of my friend’s Klout score and it’s in the teens but people online and offline come to him for advice and guidance all the time.  Quantity certainly misses nuance and even attempts to measure the quality of his user base fall short.

What matters isn’t how many Twitter followers and Facebook fans you have or your business has.  What matters is how you and your business turn those embryonic links into real relationships – ones that involve nuance in the interpersonal communications.  That leads to buzz but it also leads to more satisfying bonds with your friends, your staff, your clients, and your customers.

You see the nuances?

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Getting Engaged

I’ve been married a very long time (33 years and counting, thank you) but I still remember getting engaged.  I have no clue what it’s like today, but it used to be a big deal and there was a ritual to be followed (I still thank my lucky stars that her father was way easier on me than he should have been…).  I spend a fair amount of time these days talking about getting engaged except it’s not with my daughters (statement of fact, not a complaint!).  Instead, clients and I talk about “getting engaged” with their consumers.  The thought struck me that it’s not all that dissimilar.

Three stone engagement ring - in yellow gold -...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An engagement is a commitment in either sense of the word (marriage or otherwise).  The only way one partner can figure out if the other is worth spending a lot of time with is to engage one another in dialog.  You know –  appropriate questions, thoughtful, honest answers – a dialog.  Obviously, you can’t spend your time telling your prospective partner how great you are.  Things go a lot more smoothly if you spend a fair amount of time telling them how great THEY are.  While it’s important to keep your own goals in mind, you can’t be a crazed egomaniac if an engagement is your objective.

The hard part is listening.  As marketers and content producers, we tend to put out a lot about ourselves and don’t take in enough about our potential customers.  As an aside, we do the same as managers in a lot of cases – “jobs” are often known as “engagements” after all.

We need to woo our customers, our users, our clients  – whatever you want to call those who pay the bills – as we would a potential spouse.  That’s the only way to get engaged.  Hey – who says romance is dead!

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Back To The Garden

Remember the song “Woodstock“? Joni Mitchell wrote it, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young made it famous. One lyric is

We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil’s bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Woodstock

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I thought of that last night as I listened to an excellent discussion of Google+ and Facebook at the tech meet-up I attend monthly. What does one have to do with the other? Continue reading

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Talk, Don’t Sell

A really interesting piece yesterday on Facebook pages and ads.  GigaOm reported on a study by Campalyst concerning user engagement on Facebook which you can find here.  We’ve talked a lot about how you and I wouldn’t have a conversation in the real world in which I am constantly selling you stuff and this research serves to confirm that it’s more effective if advertisers don’t conduct themselves online any differently.  In my mind, it points to one things that will make fan pages – or any other digital executions – successful is delivering great, engaging content.

Here are the specifics.

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