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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Do you have the answer?

Adam Zand (@NoOneYouKnow) commented on a previous post I made and suggested that we co-present a panel at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 about how SM is a lot like high school. It didn’t happen due to Adam not being able to make it down from Boston and well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into my first PodCamp with a presentation.

I’ve been revisiting that ever since, when I see all of the tweets in my Twitter stream about “Top 50 Tweeters,” “Help me get to 5,000 followers!,” or “Who’s the hottest blogger?” – junk like that. Sadly, it really does seem that social media sites are progressing into popularity contests.

Why? I thought the purpose was to create relationships and share ideas, not make it about who has the most followers, comments, linkbacks, whathaveyou. True enough, there’s some vanity involved when we check out our Twitteranks, Twitter Grades, and utilize other web sites that tell us just how we measure up against our fellow social media users. It kind of reminds me of Snow White’s wicked stepmother who consulted that magic mirror to know she was still the fairest in the land. Is that really what we need to keep ourselves going?

There are incredibly smart people out there who are utilizing social media for great things, but why are only a few people called rockstars? Why can’t we all be rockstars?

What you’re doing is just as cool as what I’m doing. We might want different outcomes, but I’d like to think we could all be on the same social level, without trying to one-up each other. I don’t think, however, we can truly be social as a whole until we get rid of the labels and all of these self-serving motives (and yes, I know we all have self-serving interests in a sense) that do little more than try to inflate online social status.

I’d like to take a line that those High School Musical kids so cheesily, yet happily sing: “We’re all in this together.”

They have a point.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and popularity?

You can also feel free to email me your thoughts and I will post them in comments under anonymous or any way you’d like.

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This recent Dilbert comic made me laugh, but also made me wonder if many people believe that it’s true. We know that we’re spending more time online now than ever before, especially with the growth of social networking sites. In fact, it has been suggested that internet searches for porn have been overtaken by social networking.

We’re a plugged in society, ordering the internet-to-go with us now on laptops, PDAs, Blackberrys, iPhones (iPod Touches as well), and any other device that can catch a signal. Do you find it hard nowadays to go an hour without checking your email or Twitter stream. Admittedly, I know I do, as one who has been fully connected since the age of 12.

Still, my thoughts are trekking back to this comic strip. Do we value the internet more now than we do the outside world, and well, real people? Perhaps, but I’m going to make a case for those of us who have been interested in the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

Social networking, social media, web 2.0 – whatever you want to call it, is about creating community. It doesn’t come easy, however, as you have to be willing to invest a lot of time. (It can cost money, too, depending on your intentions). If you really dig deep you can meet many interesting people from all walks of life. But, the thing about the internet is you can be whoever you want to be, right? True, but I’ve found that for every person who isn’t always truthful, there’s dozens more who are as real as possible.

We all have different reasons behind our interest in social media. For some, it’s to make money. Others are communications or tech professionals who want to understand more about how SM can help grow their organizations. Still, some people just want a conversation – to find a group of people who have similar interests and share experiences.

We can have all of that with a click of a button and a few strokes on the keyboard.  What we’re seeing now, however, are things like tweet-ups, PodCamp and so many other meet-ups because people want to take these relationships offline. They’re not interested in hiding behind a computer screen. It’s a suggestion that relationships are very much real and meaningful to people offline as they are online.

So, here’s my answer: There are aspects of the internet that are interesting, but I think that what it ultimately does, in this day and age, is lead you to far more interesting people.

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A few days ago, I read an article that Facebook sought to acquire Twitter, but the microblogging service apparently backed out over the financials. It seems there’s disagreement over the value of the Facebook empire. It’s been appraised as high as $15 billion, but the Twitter folks believe it’s inflated from a more realistic $5 billion. To them, this meant that Facebook’s offer of $500 million in stock was really only worth $150 million.

Frankly, I’m pretty happy that the deal fell through.

It may come to pass that Twitter will be scooped up one day from a large media conglomerate. It seems it happens often. My main concern is that if Twitter is acquired, it’ll be absorbed into some service and lose its identity. I’m afraid that’s what would happen if Twitter went to Facebook. I’m already sick enough of 99% of the applications and do-hickeys on Facebook. Would Twitter just become a built-in component of the site or would the Facebook folks be content enough to let it stand alone? If that were to happen, I think the dynamic of community would largely change and not necessarily for the better.

I’m not dissing Facebook as I like it and do use it, but there’s just so much more to Twitter than “What are you doing?” I think the concept of community is inherently different for each service – while Twitter’s community seems small and inviting, Facebook’s community just feels cold and disconnected. At least, that’s the experience for me.

The biggest problem Twitter faces right now is generating revenue. The service has one part down with a user base that has rapidly expanded the last year, but like any business it has to show its backers that it is sustainable. Should it stay as a free service? Should it incorporate ads into the user experience? I think it would be wise of Twitter to spread its wings and find out, instead of taking the easy route and having another company do it for them.

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OK, can we make an effort to move on from this Motrin bitch fest? The online ads are being pulled and those in print will follow eventually. An apology has been issued and I’m sure the company is going to be much more careful. If this is what was wanted, congratulations, you’ve succeeded. Now what?

How are we going to harness all this power for good? There are far more important things in this world to worry about than a questionably offensive advertisement. Hell, I think (and there are others who’d agree with me) that there are far more offensive ads that have seen the light of day, yet I can’t seem to recall anyone really making a fuss over them.

I want to focus on something that is bigger than you, bigger than me, and bigger than all of the kerfuffle that is still plaguing the Twitter stream – people who don’t even have the luxury of engaging in this conversation because their worries are far less trivial. They worry about where they’re going to find the money for heat, warm winter clothing, whether they can have a Thanksgiving meal next week, or even afford Christmas gifts next month. They might sit behind an avatar online, but they’re in your neighborhood – on the other side of town, across the street, even next door. They are the people who matter most and I want to try an experiment. I want you to help me help them. I want us to help them together.

We know the economy is in a slump and people are tightening their wallets, which means many organizations are downsizing or looking for other cost-cutting measures. For nonprofit organizations that heavily depend on public and private donors, this could spell disaster.

The unfortunate aspect with a worsening economy is that the need for assistance has gone up, with those who may have never utilized help from charitable organizations finding themselves turning to them in desperation. The Salvation Army is just one example of organizations that are facing these issues right now.

I can speak from personal experience (disclosure: I worked for a TSA office briefly) that TSA, armed with a simple mission of “doing the most good,” is very much committed to making the world a better place and helping to ease the struggles that people face every day. Although its most famous fundraising tactic, the Red Kettle Campaign, doesn’t officially kick off until Nov. 27, it doesn’t mean that the organization doesn’t need your help now – many offices have already started to roll out the red kettles and bells early.

Locally, we’re seeing a shortfall (at least in my county) of at least $200,000 while need is increasing, and I’m sure if you looked at your own area offices, you’d see the same thing. Last year, I participated in the roll-out of a online initiative that would take the red kettle from the streets to the internet. I had my own kettle, but didn’t do much with it as there were so many distractions going on at the time.

I’m not giving up. It’s time to try this again.

I’d like to ask the community to put its power to good use and help me out. I’m starting small with a fundraising goal of $125, but would love to be able to give a much larger donation. As cliche as it sounds, every cent counts. You can even start your own!

If people can make noise about an ad, they can surely spare a dime or two  or fundraise to help those less fortunate … right?

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UPDATE 10:47 P.M. – Looks like the folks behind Motrin are taking notice of the outrage.

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While watching the Penguins win over the Buffalo Sabres last night, I checked my phone to tweet and see what everyone else was yakking about. I noticed that there happened to be a huge uproar concerning Motrin and there was little I could do to find out due to a) not having an awesome iPhone or Blackberry/smartphone in general and b) I was at a house party, so … you know. When I got back this afternoon, I could see that there was much outrage by many moms on Twitter about a new advertisement on the product’s official site.

After monitoring the Twitter steam for a while at Motrin and #motrinmoms, I finally decided to watch the video to see what all the hubbub was about. Honestly, after watching it, I can say that I’m not wholly offended. I’ve watched it numerous times since then as a way to continue analyzing it, but nope … still nothing. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children that I tend not to take any real meaning out of it. I think I’m in the minority here, but maybe not.

You can watch it and form your own opinion, but whereas many see the tone as condescending, I’m more convinced it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Additionally, I can’t help but think I could relate and might secretly have the same thoughts whenever I’m a first-time mom, too. Am I wrong for thinking that?

There’s strong focus on buzzwords such as “supposedly”, “things”, “official mom,” and so on. While we can argue over the context of those words, it is my humble opinion that “things” refers to the swaddles, swings or whatever you want to call them and NOT babies as some seem to think.

Many are calling it a PR nightmare. At this point, we don’t even know who is on the team that formulated this concept. I’d be interested to see if some of the team members are moms who may/may not have had experience with babywearing and thought that they could share their own experiences in a semi-humorous fashion. How would the perception change if this comes to light? A focus group may have helped, but again, we don’t know if they put it through the proverbial wringer before making it public.

It could have been helpful for Motrin to have a Twitter presence right now to deal with the backlash, but how can one person (or a few people) possibly engage on a personal level with hundreds of angry parents at once? How would you do it? I’m unsure that having a social media presence at this particular moment would have really helped the situation.

You can argue with me that then I don’t get it. I do, but this whole wave of social media platforms is still very new and companies are slowly starting to catch on. While we can bitch and moan that it would be so much easier if every company utilized social media, I think it’s imperative that they monitor and understand what’s happening “now” before taking the plunge. Having a presence just to have a presence isn’t always the best thing if your company has no clue and is more or less utilizing these platforms as the opportunity to spam or quite simply broadcast and nothing more.* Now, this situation might show the company (which is part of the Johnson & Johnson family) that social media engagement could be helpful in the future and I’m sure they will be paying more attention to it.

In the short term, I see an official statement being issued in response to the backlash and the ad will go *poof*. I don’t think a boycott will have any detrimental effect on the brand. Those who haven’t bought the product in the first place, probably won’t anyway and that’s more than likely due to the cost or loyalty to another brand.

While I do agree that the ad is a bit tasteless tacky (again, I don’t see it as offensive), I don’t believe they intended to piss off an entire market. They tried to reach moms in a way that they thought they’d be able to relate, but obviously it backfired – back to the drawing board. I’m looking past the controversy on a personal level because at the end of the day, the product works and to me, as a consumer, that’s what matters.

*I know this might sound pretty contradictory to several posts I made previously about businesses utilizing social media, but I don’t believe every company will find value in all social media tools. Participation ultimately needs to be structured according to what type of conversation they’re looking to have – hence, I just throw out suggestions.

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