Best post I have read about this issue. So many "experts" out there, yet when you check them out, they are not always engaged themselves. Twitter expert with 200 followers and last Tweet 2 weeks ago? Ya gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk...
Over at Tech Cocktail, Frank Gruber
just posted about DC startup GroupFlier
, who Tech Cocktail is working with to push out things like event updates and reminders from SXSW via GroupFlier's free group texting platform. Read more about what they're doing with the Tech Cocktail SXSW group here
Earlier today, iStrategyLabs
CEO and DCWEEK
co-founder Peter Corbett
posted a link to the DC Tech Facebook group
pointing to New York by Southwest
, a hub to help New Yorkers support each other during the mega SXSW Interactive Festival
. I looked to see if I could find a comparable listing or site for DC, but came up short.
I pulled together a quick list of local (DC, Maryland, Virginia) companies representing at SXSW from March 11-15 (complete with boilerplates!). Am I missing anyone? Anyone know of any DMV folks who will be speaking during SXSW? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the list.
-Stephanie Finalists for the 2011 SXSW Interactive Awards Vital Voices (Washington, DC)
- finalist in the Activism categoryRosetta Stone (Arlington, VA)
- finalist in the Educational Resource categoryExhibiting at the Trade ShowAuroIn (Frederick, MD)
Since 1999, http://www.auroin.com has been one of the leading search engine optimization(SEO) Web
destinations. Today, AuroIN LLC. is a global Internet marketing company providing SEO, PPC, SMO, Analytics, Reputation Management, Conversion Optimization services etc.Cool Blue Company (Washington, DC)
The Cool Blue Company specializes is developing books for the social media strategist within different areas of business and society. Eloqua (Vienna, VA)
Eloqua helps clients dramatically accelerate revenue growth through Revenue Performance Management. Eloqua provides powerful business insight to inform marketing and sales decisions today that drive revenue growth tomorrow. The companys mission is to make its customers the fastest growing companies on earth. Thousands of users rely on the power of Eloqua to execute, automate, and measure programs that accelerate revenue growth. Eloquas customers include Adobe, AON, Dow Jones, ADP, Fidelity, Polycom, and National Instruments. Furnace Record Pressing (Fairfax, VA)
Furnace MFG is a recognized leader in vinyl manufacturing, assembly, and finishing. In addition, Furnace MFG offers CD and DVD replication, duplication, and download cards. Furnace works with thousands of artists each year to bring their projects to life and press over a million records each year for artists like Neil Young, Tom Petty, Wilco, REM, Metallica, and Nirvana.Intermarkets (Reston, VA)
Since its founding in 1997, Intermarkets has developed into the nation's leading independent advertising sales management services firm. Intermarkets serve publishers as their exclusive representative marketing their inventory to advertisers. In addition, Intermarkets provide our advertising clients complete advertising solutions including placement on our Portfolio which delivers more than 3 billion ad impressions every month, placement across Aurora Audience, media buying and planning, and more. JustGigIt (Midlothian, VA)
JustGigIt is a free Facebook and iPhone App for musicians to expand their professional network and find gigs fast and easy.Netbiscuits (Reston, VA)
Netbiscuits' world leading cloud software platform serves the mobile Internet services for premium online, media and retail companies such as eBay, Universal Music, MTV Networks, HSN and Axel Springer, as well as leading agencies such as SapientNitro, Publicis, Razorfish and Ogilvy. Globally Netbiscuits processes more than 4.4 billion mobile page and content requests for its customers each month. Founded in 2000, the company has 90 employees in the USA, Germany, UK and Singapore.Neustar (Sterling, VA)
Neustar was founded to solve the technical and operational challenges of the communications industry when the U.S. government mandated number portability. Today, Neustar is one of the worlds largest addressing and policy management companies, operating authoritative databases for virtually all telephone numbers and area codes for the United States and Canada; providing DNS solutions that direct and manage traffic on the Internet; and managing the registry for Common Short Codes used by the wireless industry. For Hollywood, Neustar built and manages the UltraViolet brand account system which provides consumers with access to their entertainment anywhere, on any device.Salsa Labs (Washington, DC)
Salsa Labs is the creator of the popular Salsa platform, an integrated, flexible, and affordable set of tools to organize and energize people. From fundraising to advocacy, CRM, communications, and event management, Salsa empowers thousands of nonprofits and campaigns of all sizes to achieve their online goals. Organizations can create their own unique recipe for organizing by choosing from the dozens of available tools they provide as well as by plugging in dozens of other applications produced by 3rd parties in the Salsa Market. Part of Salsa's mission is to help its users become expert organizers and it provides a robust training and online community support program through SalsaCommons.org. Salsa's robust set of services are supporting thousands of user groups' relationships with over 40 million supporters, members, donors, activists, and fans all around the world.SKYFER (Vienna, VA)
SKYFER is a free web and mobile application that connects users within close vicinity and allows exchange information, request services, and take offers in real time.SocialToaster (Baltimore, MD)
SocialToaster is a social marketing platform that engages supporters to promote your content to their social networks; driving website traffic and providing comprehensive reporting on the effectiveness of your efforts.SoundExchange (Washington, DC)
SoundExchange is the non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (such as Pandora), cable TV music channels (such as Comcasts Music Choice) and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which was created by Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties on behalf of featured and non-featured recording artists, master rights owners (usually record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.VOPED (Lansdowne, VA)
The VOPED online video platform offers turnkey, Pay Per View technology and services to recording artists, filmmakers, and media and entertainment companies. Go live and go on-demand to attract a global audience to reach untapped revenue streams with online Pay Per View. VOPED, the video platform solutions company, offers a range of products and services to deliver video online. The VOPED platform is feature-rich and provides all of the tools to manage, encode, publish, and monetize online video.
Earlier today, I caught a video by Alex Blagg
of A Bajillion Hits
fame. Who's Alex, you ask?
Part Internet meme, part satire, ABH is one giant riff on the oft-exaggerated "expertise" of social media "gurus." Blagg, as his site boasts, specializes in "meme-making," "Bieber-baiting," and "Engaging Engagement." He's a "visionary," a "Webeneur," and "strategenius." He offers services in "idea design," "algorithms," "nano-solutions," and "paradigm-adjustment." In other words, Blagg's parody reminds us just how ridiculous it is for anyone to have an "expertise" in making things go viral. To Blagg, it's all boilerplate." - Fast Company
In this new video, from an event he spoke at in December, Blagg talks about how businesses can "get their strat back and win in business by jacking it on the Internet."
The video's long (doesn't Blagg know how difficult it is to get an 8 minute video to go viral!?
), but I personally found it to be hilarious, and a pretty spot-on look at "social media gurus."
Blagg's right to poke fun at self-described "social media experts." And he's not alone. Just this week, Trackur
CEO and Marketing Pilgrim
editor Andy Beal
published a tongue-in-cheek guide on how to become a Twitter guru
What does it even mean to describe yourself as a "social media expert"? You use Twitter? You've been on Facebook since 2004?
Yet, as odd as the title might seem, it's not hard to find one of these experts. In 2009, a fantastic study by B.L. Ochman
showed there were nearly 16,000 social media experts on Twitter:
In May 09 when we first used Tweepsearch to count of the Twitter bios of self-proclaimed social media gurus, experts, superstars and ninjas there were 4,487. A mere seven months later, we were shocked to see that there are now nearly 16,000. They are multiplying like rabbits.
I haven't seen any updated numbers for 2011, but it's safe to say that the number of self-described "gurus" online has exploded. With this explosion, an issue has developed that I like to describe as the self-gratifying circle of social media.
What is that? Well, if you read enough social media blogs, and keep up with certain pockets of these folks on Twitter, Facebook, etc., you'll quickly notice a common phenomenon: Person A will write a blog post. Persons B-N will, (often without question) automatically share and comment on ("Another awesome post!...") Person A's post. The same thing happens when Person B posts, and so on.
It's a bit self-perpetuating and insular. Michael Pinto
calls these experts (or "zombies," as he describes them) "the cancer of Twitter":
The zombies then seek each other: You'll always notice that of the 5,000 followers that a social media expert has that all 5,000 of them are also social media "experts." Their only form of conversation is to quote each other and live tweet conferences where they gather. Like any good Ponzi scheme the lead zombies can make a good living feeding the hopes and aspirations of the worker level drones who parrot their every blog entry.
So what are we to do? First things first, realize that "true" experts are out there, but you probably won't see them describe themselves as such. Beth Harte
and Geoff Livingston
wrote a solid post on "how to tell if your social media expert is a carpetbagger."
It's a few years old now, but I think their advice is just as valid today.
To me, the most important distinction is that your "expert" shouldn't think of social media as a parlor trick, but as part of an overall communications strategy. Similar to any other tactic, they should have legitimate successes to point to, and measurement should be a key component.
Until we get to that point, and until non-experts stop describing themselves as "gurus," we'll see parodies from the likes of Alex Blagg.
I'm curious as to why the title of the OpenForum article asked if small businesses would benefit from press platforms. Why wouldn't any company? I personally thought that was the most ridiculous argument ever. However, I do believe there should be more news around the platforms available. I, along with a few PR pros and journalists, recently launched FlackList, a database of flacks within a social network built to help media find and source the best PR pros. www.flacklist.com. We're not trying to take the place of HARO, but rather trying to combine the best features of all platforms in one place. It's about connecting, but it's also about maintaining those relationships.
A recent post
by Jeff Jarvis
made me think long and hard about a term we tend to throw about wantonly within public relations: content. Specifically, how we do (or dont) view the overall hierarchy of content. As Jeff says in the post: Its not about the content (stupid). Its about value.
Thats what I think we tend to miss in public relations we spend so much time worrying about volume of content (read as tweets, Facebook status posts, blog posts, whitepapers, podcasts, repeat ad nauseam), that we completely forget the most important piece of the content puzzle: value. Why should someone read this blog post? Why should they care?
Yes, syndication is important a client could write the most important piece of analysis for their entire industry, and it would be worthless if we as public relations professionals were unable to get it in front of the right people. But far too often we focus only on on churning out steaming mounds of words, forgetting to actually read what we create.
Publishers are focused on making a profit from their content its the only model that they know. Look at the New York Times paywall
, the Daily
, and so on. But for every outlet that tries to lock its information down, others are providing valuable content for free citizen bloggers, independent technology analysts, mommy bloggers, and more. Jeff points to the Huffington Post as a key example, which I would agree with prior to its acquisition by AOL
time will tell as to whether the value remains after the site is run through AOLs monetization machine.
My point isnt that we need to stop creating content consistently; its that we need to step back and look at everything we write and ask ourselves a simple question: Is this valuable?
During my almost 10 years in public relations I think there is one thing Ive heard reporters repeat over and over again personalize your pitch! And no, they dont just mean the salutation, although that helps. What they mean is do your research, know who they are and what they write about. Im constantly amazed that this is what reporters repeatedly stress as to me it seems like a no brainer. However, clearly thats not the case.
Recently though (ok, last month, but I just had a chance to read it this weekend) PR Daily News Feed
featured what might be the most creative and personalized media pitch Ive ever seen. Apparently David Pogue
, personal-technology columnist at the New York Times also found the pitch (which was sent to him, amongst others) to be one of the best hes ever seen.
This particular pitch, which was a video that you can watch here
, features the CEO and COO of CodeWeavers, dressed in drag. Why would they do that? Well, because they were pitching their latest product: Crossover Mac Impersonator. In short, their product allows you to run Windows applications on a Mac without a Windows license. While dressed as Cher, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
, these two guys get right to the point this is our product, this is why its cool and this is what we want from you AND they did all of that with little to no tech jargon! Ultimately they wanted Pogue to stop by their booth at Macworld to try out their product. While Pogue didnt attend Macworld, he did admit that the guys at CodeWeavers certainly got his attention. (Personally, Id be on the look out for a review of the product from Pogue in the near future.)
Another pitch that Pogue identified as being a perfect PR pitch
came from Nikon. After openly writing a review of the Canon S95 in love letter form, Pogue received a response from the Nikon D80, which he himself says was the first camera he ever really loved in print.
In his response to Pogue, Nikon PR guy Geoff Coalter reminds Pogue about his love for the Nikon D80, waxes poetic about the cameras strengths and introduces Pogue to a new-to-him Nikon product, the P7000. Pogue found the pitch to be brilliant and says I hadnt heard of the P7000, but youd better believe that Im going to review it now.
So why do these two pitches work so well? Its not just that the PR pros behind these pitches got the salutation right. Its that they know their product; they know their company or the client they are representing and most importantly, they know the reporter. Its clear that they didnt just do a quick Google search to see who is writing about camera reviews or Macs. They have clearly been following Pogue for quite a while, they knew about his history writing about Macs (he did after all write Macs for Dummies
) and they knew he had previously written about their product (in the case of Nikon).
Am I suggesting that our clients start dressing in drag or writing love letters to reporters? Nope, not at all, but if you want to, to each his own. But I am suggesting that we all slow down, just a little bit, and make sure to carve time out of each day to read. Its our job as PR professionals to know the reporters that matter to our clients, to know what they are writing about and to make sure we are pitching the right person on the right topic at the right time. With that in mind, I for one am going to spend just a little bit less time talking and a little more time reading.
had a great post yesterday a repost from the American Express OPEN Forum
) breaking down the pros, cons and overall experience of the two largest free press platforms: Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
. The post did a great job of looking at the two platforms from a small business perspective, but as a PR pro, is one better than the other?
I happen to use both HARO and NewsBasis, along with ProfNet
, which is a subscriber (paid) service from PRNewswire. And while the experience with each varies from day-to-day based on the individual reporter queries, I think that all of the platforms are useful, at least to a certain extent.
With HARO, the biggest thing PR pros need to understand is DONT PITCH OFF TOPIC. Im deadly serious about this Peter Shankman
and his colleagues enforce this stricture ruthlessly and arent afraid to call out spam pitches by name on Twitter and in email blasts. Generally the queries are a mix of trade publications and major dailies, from Processor Magazine
to the Wall Street Journal. SpeakerBox has landed quite a few nice placements from HARO, so its worth signing up, even if you have to weed through a lot of off-topic queries to find a gem or two.
NewsBasis is a newer player and one that I havent had much success with, due to a dearth of technology-focuses queries. That being said, the queries that I have seen are quality (Wired, New York Times, and so on). Coverage areas aside, the site is fantastic, with a great user interface, timely email alerts and the ability to send general pitches to multiple reporters in a specific focus area (like technology or healthcare), something that other platforms frown upon (HARO even uses throw-away email addresses that expire at the deadline for its journalists).
Finally, ProfNet is much like HARO, only it requires a subscription. While a quality service (weve had many successes through ProfNet), in recent months it has come under siege from HARO, with many of the queries being duplicated across both platforms. ProfNets biggest upside is that it doesnt mask email addresses, making it easy to collect reporter information for internal media lists.**Only do this if the journalist actually covers your topic area; I am not condoning off-topic or spam pitching.
So, whats the verdict? In short, theres no harm in subscribing to HARO and NewsBasis both provide quality opportunities and, more importantly, can connect you with some very well regarded journalists. As for ProfNet, it remains a quality service (if a bit expensive), but I think that it has to evolve to combat the increasing popularity of HARO.
Last night Watson, IBM’s natural-language processing supercomputer contestant, competed on Jeopardy against two all-time Jeopardy greats, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson, who ended last night tied with Brad, will compete in one full exhibition game that will last three nights. Tonight will be Double Jeopardy…
Many were expecting the computer to come out and dominate. However, if you’ve watched Jeopardy at all you know that some of the clues have subtle hints or puns that give humans an edge.
Watson has the processing power of 2,800 powerful computers and it is taught to learn. Not learn in a scary, “computers are taking over!” way, but in that the humans who made Watson can adjust the algorithms it uses to make its decisions so that it seems to get better at the game as time goes on.
Watson is powered by 10 racks of IBM Power 750 servers, running Linux and uses 15 terabytes of RAM and 2,880 processor cores.
To prepare for "Jeopardy!", it has been loaded with a huge amount of information about books, movies, history, plays, music, current events, and the list goes on.
For each question, Watson evaluates information from about 200 million pages of content, or 1 million books, McQueeney said.
And it has to do it in 3 seconds.
While the technology (specifically the analytics used) is cool, one of the most annoying things about Watson on Jeopardy, to me, is that his top three answers pop up on the screen as soon as the question goes away. It’s slightly distracting, and unless he’s totally off (which he sometimes is), you as a viewer have no chance to guess, which means no bragging rights, and, for me, no way to tell who does the dishes. Additionally, Trebek takes a lot of time to explain Watson, show clips of preliminary rounds and talk about how Watson was made. I know that’s a draw for some, but I get annoyed during regular shows when they can’t get to all the clues because they’re chatting too much, so this had me at the end of my rope!
Call me an angry nerd all you want, but as an avid Jeopardy watcher, I can’t wait until Thursday when things are back to normal. To be completely honest, I’d rather watch the kids’ tournaments; at least they get on with the game!
Oh, and what’s with Watson getting the Daily Double on his first pick? I smell a set up!
– Ali Smith
I think the WCP wins on this one -- and I'm not talking about law, I'm talking about PR!
Unless youre isolated in some lead-lined bunker under the Rocky Mountains (in which case you shouldnt be reading this, as the government can now find you!), youve been inundated with stories around how social media is acting as the backbone for modern revolutions, highlighted by the Tunisian revolutio
n and the ongoing Egyptian protest
Now, what does this have to do with your social media strategy? Am I supposing that your strategy should aim to trounce a brutal or unlawful government? No. The business of fomenting revolution is a bit beyond my pay grade.
Instead, you need to look at these examples as to how a true grassroots movement is created via social media. Revolutionary or not, if you want your followers/fans/subscribers to actually take action based on your activities, there had better be a call to action, as well as some kind of mutual cause. Keep in mind, Im using cause here very loosely and not necessarily referring to a social cause (which can become extremely powerful through social media
, as already mentioned), but more in the vein of a call to action.
Finding a cause is where most social media strategies truly fail. Your organization doesnt need a lofty goal your cause could be as silly as getting a free Whopper
or as complex/class-conscious as taking a stand against metered broadband
or childhood bullying
, but you need to stand for something.
Without this call to action, your brand is simply adrift in the social media ocean sure, you might have a few successes in terms of positive retweets and enhanced public sentiment, but youll always lack that wow moment when you see something your company backs trending on Twitter or surpassing 10,000 Likes on Facebook.
As part of the bi-weekly SpeakerBox training program, Kelly Harman
came to SpeakerBox to share her favorite cloud-based marketing and productivity tools.
Kelly showcased a range of cloud-based solutions that provide crowd-sourced design, cheap labor for repetitive projects, collaboration, personalization and convenience and explained how she had used these tools for clients and personal use.
We also discussed some of our favorite free productivity solutions, including browser-based to-do lists TeuxDeux
and Remember the Milk
and project management solutions Basecamp
Take a look at Kellys presentation. Any other favorite tools youd like to share?
It's rare that I get the chance to come on here and blog about fashion (I'm actually a sartorial fiend), so I figured I'd take the opportunity to write about the recent Kenneth Cole PR fiasco.
It all started earlier this week when someone, most likely the designer himself, tweeted on the Kenneth Cole handle an insensitive and ill-conceived attempt to connect the spring collection with the chaos in Cairo.
Poor form, Kenneth Cole. Poor form. Even if the fashion world is accepting of pushing the envelope, that tweet was way over the top in light of current events. Does the Kenneth Cole team really think this is good for PR and branding? Kenneth Cole took the appropriate steps by removing the tweet and issuing an apology on Facebook (I would have recommended that the apology be posted on their website as well), but the damage was done.
Naturally, someone started a fake Twitter handle called @KennethColePR
, where equally offensive tweets have been posted for the last 24 hours. With just 33 tweets, they've amassed a following of over 6,000 people; it's very similar to the fake BP Twitter account
that popped up last year. In my opinion, the effectiveness of the fake tweets lies in that 1) it doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to think Kenneth Cole could come up with these; and 2) the real tweet that started the mess fits right in and is equally absurd.
For me, the ongoing backlash in the media reinforces the belief that you can cross the line with negligent social media efforts. I wonder if Kenneth Cole stopped to consider one of the cardinal rules of Twitter: think before you tweet (actually, that's right up there with don't tweet and drink).
Let me be clear. This isnt a political blog post. If I may steal from Marie Claire
s Nina Garcia, Its a question of taste. The moral of the story is don't underestimate a smart, aware online community that isn't afraid to use parody to call out tasteless behavior.
Why is it that whenever we picture the future, we invariably think of talking computers? After all, we have that technology now
. Its widely accessible. Its not really all that useful. But for some reason, talking computers will forever remain the lynchpin of any futuristic, ultramodern fantasy.
I suppose one of the things we havent yet perfected, though, is a truly open talking computer interface, through which to ask poignant questions about the universe (Computer, what is true love?), ormuch more likelystupid questions about Star Trek. (Computer, is Kate Mulgrew still alive?)
Enter Qwikia paradigm-disrupting interactive information experience game-changer. (Computer, what is a press release?)
Actually, Qwiki is more like a website that reads you Wikipedia entries in a stilted robotic voice while pulling up semi-relevant images and videos. In fact, thats exactly what it is.
People are talking about Qwiki now because Facebooks Eduardo Saverin (a.k.a. Spidermans hunkalicious alter ego)wait, Im confusing movies and real life againinvested heavily in the company. And as we now know from watching Aaron Sorkins The Social Network
, all successful Internet start-ups need a petulant wet blanket to stifle the creative genius of their idiosyncratic founders. (Why else do you think Steve Jobs made Lou Dobbs his VP of product development?)
Now then: Zuckerburgs role at Qwiki is being filled by Doug Imbruce (CEO), or maybe CTO and former AltaVista founder Louis Monier (you know, that guy whos always telling people to just AltaVista it and then getting hit with blank stares.)
I could describe this more, but its probably just easier for you to try it out. The alpha version is up and running here
, or you can check out Dougs award-winning presentation
from Septembers TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Play around and let me know what you think: game-changer or pointless waste-o-time? I know which way Im leaning. (Computer, what is a Ponzi scheme?)
If youre a Skins fan and you work in PR, youve probably had the same thought as me
it would be a nightmare to have to do PR for Dan Snyder. The man is a walking, talking media time bomb.
Yesterday, Dan Snyder launched a lawsuit against The Washington City Papers parent company for what he claims to be a libelous article written about him almost three months ago by Dave McKenna. Snyder is claiming that for a number of reasons (all of which I personally disagree with) the article should be considered libel. My question is what does Snyder want out of this? If it is to clear his name, by bringing an article from three months ago back to life his plan has backfired. This fuss about the lawsuit has created a boom in people looking for the original article The Cranky Redskins Fans Guide to Dan Snyder, opening it up to a new audience. And since were not going to be playing in the big game this weekend, every local sports news outlet has been covering the story making it snowball to the point that is being covered by national news outlets (and making fans blood boil in the process). If money is the cure-all here, he probably wont get that either
the definition of libel indicates that the offending statements written are false and for a public figure like Snyder hell have to prove they were made with the intent to do harm (or on purpose to damage his character). While McKennas article was not flattering, it was factual. To me it seems that Snyders own actions damaged his character, not McKennas list of them. The City Paper has responded to the claim by offering Snyder the chance to pen his own column responding to the article, to meet with editors to discuss the problem or to provide evidence to support his claim that the facts stated are wrong none of these have happened yet. They will not however stop reporting on the Redskins or fire McKenna over this article. While fighting libel cases can be costly, it looks like The City Paper will not back down. From the response: Its extremely unfortunate that Snyder believes that it is appropriate to threaten City Paper with litigation because he objects to our coverage. As a 30-year old newspaper and vibrant website committed to both in-depth news reporting and full-throated commentary, we do not believe that using the court system to stifle or chill free speech is ever appropriate. In this case, its especially shabby: As a well known public figure, Snyder has more than ample ability and resources to respond to coverage he does not like, including through his significant public relations apparatus. Lest there be any doubt, we have offered him a forum to do so in our pages, and that invitation stands. Should he elect to actually file a lawsuit, we have directed our counsel to defend the case vigorously. Im excited to see how this plays out but if libel is still proven the same way it was in Frascas Comm Law class a short eight years ago The City Paper should have no trouble.
Your encouraging words are a welcome contrast to the hundreds upon thousands of death threats I've been receiving (although most of them are from my ex-wife and also that fisherman me and my friends thought we accidentally killed last summer.)
Don't feel bad about getting sucked back in to Facebook, though. Just pretend you're taking it down from the inside :)
Be strong Jonathan! I was soo proud of myself for quitting last year but then I got sucked back in b/c all my friends are there. Thus I am once again Zuck's property. Glad you got out :)
I think we may need to enlist Mike to help settle the unrest in Cairo.
He is exceedingly diplomatic and -- at least in his assessment of this particular issue -- probably right on the money.
Jonathan and Stephanie are both right and both good looking.
Facebook, like everything involving faces and books, has a cost and a service. The service -- as Stephanie has so eloquently expressed -- allows you, for the first time, the ability to keep in touch with everyone you wish to keep in touch with. Sure, you can gum up the gears by farming beets with people you wouldnt share a seat on the Metro with. However, if used correctly, the ability to keep in contact with loved ones at such an intimate level has real value. If anything, imaging a grandmother being able to log-on at any time and see pictures of her grandson makes it all worth while.
That all being said, Jonathan, in prose that would make David Sedaris jealous, makes an excellent point as well this service has a real cost. The assumption that anything placed on the internet especially Facebook is going to remain private is ridiculous. Yes, Facebook (along with Google, Microsoft, and everyone else) is going to farm your data. Yes, if you "check in" to Five Guys on Facebook, you will get Five Guys advertisements. Yes, you will never be able to rid yourself of that status message alerting everyone how "completely tanked" you were last Wednesday. The cost of using Facebooks service is privacy, through and through. Its up to the user to decide if this is worth it.
If you want privacy, try using a typewriter to update your status message.
If I may, I’d like to use this opportunity to respond to some of the points in what was—by any measure—a coherent and well-reasoned rebuttal to my earlier ramblings.
Stephanie (who is very beautiful by the way) begins her argument by citing the “incredible value Facebook has brought to millions of people worldwide.” And to substantiate this claim, she links to the social network’s own statistics page, which boasts that “people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook”
Now in terms of U.S. dollars, the average American worker (when not occupied by Facebook) earns somewhere near 10 cents per minute. So in doing the calculation, one could say that Facebook now costs the U.S. economy roughly 70 billion dollars per month, or 840 billion dollars per year, or probably close to 2 trillion dollars overall throughout the company’s 7-year history.
Talk about value!
Of course I’m not suggesting that Facebook is solely responsible for our current recession. I’m suggesting that Facebook is solely responsible (in terms of cumulative damage) for essentially every recession in the history of the nation, or soon will be if these trends continue exponentially (which I assure you they will).
Stephanie’s next very luminous point (I kill with kindness, you see) is that we enter into these Internet contracts with our eyes wide open, knowing full-well the ways in which Facebook, Google (and evidently Bing on “behalf of” Google) will prostitute our cherished personal data for their own monetary gain.
Well, I sort of agree with that. We certainly know something is amok. But have any of us ever been able to read through (carefully, that is) the entirety of an Internet’s property’s terms and conditions statement?
If you said yes, you’re either extraordinarily scrupulous or a dirty liar (or a clean, scrupulous liar).
Yes, our government requires these disclosures for our protection. But the actual manifestation of the law is such an abstruse, impenetrable product that it merely inures us to the habit of signing away freedoms we don’t entirely understand.
(Again, I’m not suggesting that Facebook is responsible for the 2001 Patriot Act, but…)
Finally, Stephanie attractively asserts that while most of her friends can communicate with her via alternate methods, there are some conversations that can only happen on Facebook.
I presume that’s because she wouldn’t trust these people with her telephone number, email, mailing address, fax machine number, post office box, GPS coordinates, or vaguely drawn treasure map. And what does that say about these folks, exactly? For goodness’ sake, I’ll give my email address to a sweepstakes guy!
So yes, Facebook may be a good place to have conversations with those friends of yours whom you suspect might also be serial killers. Beyond that, I’m not seeing it.
Steph, I await your devastating reply.
Earlier today, my colleague Jonathan shared his reasons for leaving Facebook
, largely citing his privacy concerns. And he's not alone
But while I think Jonathan is usually right on the money with a lot of his perspectives, I think he's incorrect in thinking that leaving Facebook is the answer. It's only a quick fix, and it ignores the incredible value Facebook has brought to millions of people worldwide
I do completely agree with his perspective that "information is the new currency." It is! From Facebook to sites like Twitter, Foursquare and Yelp, to "everyday things" we now take for granted like Google, web-based email and blogs, our every move is being tracked online. In a way, it's the price we're paying for "free" access to these sites. The sites collect information on your interests, habits, etc., and through the magic of this data, your online experience becomes even more personalized through ads and partnerships.
So, for people like Jonathan who are worried about what information sites like Facebook are collecting on them, I offer this suggestion: You opted into these services
(and yes, you are "opting in" to sites like Google when you do a search on their site). If you don't want your information shared - everything from your birthday, address, relationship status, favorite books / music / movies to "the list of days I go to the gym" - don't share it!
It's as simple as that.
Over-sharing on these sites is a different topic for another day (sneak preview: don't do it!). Facebook hasn't wronged any of us by sharing the information we post on their site. They are, after all, a business. Unless they start charging users for access, targeted advertising is their revenue model
. And while I've never clicked on a Facebook ad, and I did find it slightly overwhelming that they all changed to wedding planning the exact minute I changed my relationship status to "engaged" a few years back, I didn't blame Facebook. Why would I? I chose to share that information, didn't I?
For me, sharing that information is the small price I pay to stay connected to hundreds of people. Jonathan argued that he "can still talk to his friends through talking," and that's absolutely true for the majority of my connections on Facebook. But there are still dozens of other people that I've reconnected with that I probably wouldn't have, and conversations that I wouldn't have had, but for Facebook.
To me, those connections are "worth the price of admission" in terms of the information I'm choosing
to share to have access to the site.
- Stephanie Wonderlick
P.S. Two new pseudo-related links people should look at if they don't want to be tracked online and want the latest and greatest Facebook security features:
Gather round, children, Ill probably say some fifty years from now, seated in an oversized rocking chair at the Cracker Barrel, And Ill tell you a tale. Actually, they made a movie about it, with former president Timberlake. Won an Oscar, as I recall.
Thats a disturbing future, indeed.
But perhaps there will yet come a time when posterity fully recognizes the scope of my achievement: that is, becoming one of the few, brave insurgents to ever escape the Facebooks iron clutches.
Now, I know what youre thinking: Why would anyone, anywhere, ever want to leave Facebook? Its probably the second greatest invention of the 21st century (see Weight, Shake). And yet, despite its admittedly attractive features, I would argue that the platformas it currently standsis felled by imperfections
Facebook, it turns out, has this thing about privacy (the thing being that they dont give a $#@&). And this becomes particularly problematic as the line between business and personal social networking continues to blur. (My colleague Jennifer has more on this in her excellent tech trends post
So for businesses with no significant personal privacy concerns, Id say Facebook is a fine venue. But for me, as a living human man person, I was starting to see it as a privacy liability. And so I did what anyone would do: I assembled a team of elves and dwarves to travel with me to Silicon Valley and help put an end to my account.
How hard could it be to cancel a free service?
Now cancelling AOL back in the early Internet days (as my Dad tells it) was the second hardest feat ever attempted by mankind (see Shake Weight, legitimate marketing of). But AOL had revenue at stake, right? Surely, Facebook wouldnt care if just one of its 300 million non-paying users left the temple.
In the 21st century, information is the new revenue, didnt you know? The list of days I go to the gym isapparentlyconsidered priceless information to most new venture capitalists. And the Facebook guys didnt become zillionaires by willingly giving away their most valuable assets.
So heres what actually happens when you try to leave Facebook:
First, Facebook Guilt-Trips You Into Staying.
Say what? Yes, the algorithm picks out a few of your friends (probably those whose photos have the most forlorn or threatening expressions) and basically asks: Is it really worth abandoning these incredible human beings?
Fortunately, given the superficial nature of Facebook friends, I didnt recognize any of the people in the photos. And in fact, as it turns out, I dont actually need Facebook to talk to my friends; I can still talk to my friends through talking.
Unconvinced, I journeyed on.Next, Facebook Tricks You Into Thinking Youve Deleted Your Account When In Fact You Havent.
This part is brilliant. What better way to handle member attrition than with a misleading account deactivation option that actually maintains all of your informationintact in the systemso that you can reactivate at any time?
Sure, friends can still tag you in photos, people can invite you to events, and Facebook can continue to email you every 45 seconds, but for all intents and purposes, youre gone man.
Not good enough, so I soldiered forth.And Finally, Facebook Refuses to Delete Your Account Unless You Can Prove Youre Pure of Heart By Going 14 Days Without Accidentally Logging In.
Thats right, you cant actually delete your account for fourteen daysif you can even find this option in the first place. (Hint: its hidden, and you have to do a help search for it.)
Also, that two-week Bristol Palin-style abstinence test may be tougher than you think, especially if you have auto-logins or mobile Facebook applications. Hit the wrong button and youre back where you started, but two-weeks older and slightly more pissed off.
And Then Theres This:
Having left Facebook successfully, do I really believe that Zuckerburgs servers have disposed of any of my information?
According to Facebook, the company may in fact hold on to some of my data in their servers for technical reasons, (translation: monetary reasons), but I can rest assured that my personal identifiers are definitely most likely probably detached.
Also good to remember is that the Internet is cached all the time, so no matter what Facebook does or doesnt do, Im never really deleting anything. Barring a nuclear war, the Internetand all of its countless data pointswill endure.
Still, it made me feel better to go through the motions. After all, the illusion of privacy isin some wayseven more valuable than privacy itself.
I cant actually think of any of those ways off the top of my head. But if I had Facebook, I could ask somebody.