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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

Facebook’s BranchOut App Turns Up the Heat on LinkedIn

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BranchOutMuch like McDonald’s old McDLT sandwich packaging tried to “keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool” by separating the fresh-off-the grill hamburger patty from the fresh-from-the fridge tomato and lettuce, social media users frequently try to keep their public identity and activities public and their private identity and activities private by using multiple social media platforms.

This desire to curate or control how our different publics see us is one of the reasons that career-oriented social media sites such as LinkedIn have flourished even as Facebook pursues its ambition to be the world’s one-stop social media destination.

Facebook’s response to upstart competitors usually takes one of two forms: it buys the company or it creates very similar functionality and then kills the competitor because of its huge existing user base that other sites or services cannot overcome.

We saw Facebook in buyout mode recently when it announced it was purchasing the photo retouching and sharing company Instagram. Now we may be seeing Facebook in “kill the competitor” mode with its launch of BranchOut, the professional networking app that draws data from existing Facebook profiles to connect people in similar industries.

This presents a danger for LinkedIn. Even though it had the “first-mover advantage” in growing the professional social media niche, the Facebook juggernaut has the ability to dwarf LinkedIn’s network, given time. This Mashable article by Sarah Kessler states that while BranchOut currently has only 25 million registered users, as compared to LinkedIn’s 150 million users, BranchOut has access to the full 845 million Facebook accounts around the world.

I would imagine that LinkedIn’s leadership team is working to avoid the fate of the McDLT, which was eventually discontinued along with its innovative packaging. Only time will tell if Facebook’s “all things to all people” recipe for success will win in the end.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

April 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

The Google+ Redesign Looks Oddly Familiar

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Google+Of all my social media platforms, I think I use Google+ the least. Well, technically, I use my old Myspace page the least, because it has been years since I even logged in.

That makes Google+ the second least used of my social media platforms. So it was with a bit of skepticism that I read the news that Google+ has done a big redesign of its site.

My first thought was “if a social media platform fell in the forest, and no one was there, did it make a sound?”

But after watching the video, and then logging in to the site, I realized there was something about the new look that was very familiar.

The way the wide-format images appear at the top of the page, the way status updates are displayed, it all looks suspiciously Facebook-like.

There are definitely some innovations, such as a customizable “ribbon” of moveable icons in the left-hand navigational column instead of static images or text. This is the kind of fresh design concept that Google will have to depend on if it wants to continue competing with Facebook.

But if the next Google+ redesign starts looking suspiciously like my old Myspace page, that’s when I may have to call it a day.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

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Trying to Stay Focused? Don’t Check Facebook

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Although I have occasionally criticized Facebook in this space, for purposes of full disclosure, I hereby state that I do enjoy logging in to Facebook and looking at pictures and status updates from my friends.

The “stickiness” of the site is like a siren song, calling me to scroll down further, further, just a little further, down into the bottomless well of information. As you might have guessed, this is by design: the longer we stay, the more revenue we generate for Facebook as we look at ads on the site.

But just because it is good for Facebook does not mean it is good for us. As it turns out, new research shows that checking Facebook just once is enough to distract us from being productive while we are trying to work.

This recent story in Psychology Today discusses a study of how people were able to maintain their focus in the midst of electronic distractions such as the Internet and smartphones.

It turns out that checking Facebook was a major momentum-killer for those trying to focus on a task and be productive. It did not matter if they checked Facebook once or a dozen times: the damage was done and concentration was lost.

I think I already knew this, but the best science often tells us what we already know. Now comes the hard part: actually refraining from checking Facebook when I am under tight deadline pressure.

I’ll let you all know how that turns out.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm

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Facebook Buys Instagram But Not Its Coolness

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When Facebook announced this week that it had purchased the photo retouching and sharing app Instagram, much of the news coverage was accompanied with sidebar articles such as “Deleting Your Instagram Account? Here’s How to Save Your Pics.”

The snap-judgment implication was that, by purchasing this small, cool company, Facebook was about to ruin it forever, prompting those “in the know” to head for the door. But the larger implication was that Facebook was so obviously uncool that one could be tainted just by association with it.

What a fascinating change. Just a few years ago, Facebook was the cool thing, the new thing, the David to Myspace’s Goliath: the one you rooted for. Students at universities in the US could not wait until their campuses were allowed to participate.

Where did it all go wrong? Was it all the times Facebook got in trouble for changing its users’ privacy settings? Or was it FarmVille?

We may never know, but to me, it’s clear: the thrill is gone. Oh, the site will be with us for a long time yet to come. But if cynicism about Facebook’s motives runs this deep, the company has more of a public perception problem than it may realize.

And even the best Instagram filter can’t change that.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

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Find Your Next Job Through Social Media

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Changing jobs or finding new work after a period of unemployment is never easy, even in the best economic times.

And as we all know, the last few years have not been the best. I have seen many bright, hardworking, talented people in my industry struggle to find work following layoffs or shutdowns.

I know it’s a hackneyed cliché, but just as no good gig lasts forever, neither does a bad one. And unemployment is among the worst gigs there is.

Social Job SearchThe good news is that social media, the great change agent of our day, is now having an impact on getting a job. There’s a great infographic on Mashable about how social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are booming as a way to connect candidates with job openings.

LinkedInI can see the difference myself, in the kinds of ads and job suggestions displayed on my LinkedIn profile. The site seems to be doing a good, careful job of mining my resume and connecting it to open jobs I might be interested in, some based on my work background and some apparently based on compatible careers that match my education.

I like how the job suggestions are acting as a kind of surrogate career coach, encouraging me to consider possibilities I may have never considered.

For all those looking for work, or for different work, it’s clear that social media networking is an investment of time and energy well worth making.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Social Media – Naughty or Nice?

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It’s a given that social media’s usage and influence have grown wildly beyond what anyone expected just a few years ago.

According to a report by Navneet Kaushal of PageTrafficBuzz, as of January 2012, Facebook by itself was the destination for nine percent of all online visits in the US, and twenty percent of all online page views.

That’s not counting Twitter, Google+, and the many other social media destinations available online.

What’s interesting to me, though, is not that social media is huge, but that’s it’s huge enough to have sparked a discussion of what it means to be social.

Blogger Steve Sonn writes that a growing number of individuals are using social media in an antisocial way, by brazenly self-promoting their business and their personal brand in a one-way direction, rather than being “open, transparent, helpful and engaging.”

I like this concept, because it says something about the aspirational nature of why we communicate in the first place, and why we all seek out communities in which we can grow and thrive.

On the other hand, just as the music world has room for punk rock, there are those who want to bring the same “smash ’em up” sensibility to social media.

This Chronicle of Higher Education story by Jeffrey R. Young highlights just such a rule-breaker: Dean Terry, the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, who is committing what he calls “social-media blasphemy” with his new Facebook plug-in, “EnemyGraph.”

The service lets Facebook users identify their “enemies,” which then appear in their profiles. The report states that Terry originally wanted to use the word “dislike,” but that word was specifically banned by Facebook, in order to maintain a positive atmosphere for its users.

This “blasphemy” may be a tongue-in-cheek rejection of the idea that being nice, kind, and positive is the best way to approach social media. But I think it has the potential to create a lot of damage. Practical jokes may seem funny in theory, but in reality, they’re just mean.

So while I’m generally in favor of a little rule-breaking now and then, when it comes to social media, I prefer playing nice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

The Cost of Free Apps: A New Smartphone?

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Apple Store | Image via Creative CommonsI recently upgraded my iPhone, trading in a two-year-old 3GS for a new 4S. I didn’t do it to chase the coolness factor: call me old-fashioned, but I’m really not motivated to have the “latest and greatest.” What does motivate me, however, is that my tech devices actually work to my satisfaction.

And that’s why I traded in my phone: its battery life had gotten so bad that I couldn’t use it for more than an hour if it was not plugged in to the wall or to a computer.

Most days, that is not such a handicap. Usually I’m at my desk, in the car or at home, where I could easily charge my phone.

But the other day I was in the field, working with reporters covering a power outage on campus. I was on the scene, exchanging phone calls, e-mails and text messages while checking the university’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, when I suffered my own personal power outage: my phone died, right when I needed it the most.

So now I have a new phone with a brand-new battery, and I have dutifully imported all my important information, especially my apps. Problem solved, right?

Not so fast: maybe it was the apps all along. Especially the “free” ones that are filled with ads. This Lifehacker article by Adam Pash made me think about all the extra energy my battery has to burn to keep loading the next banner ad in the app I am using.

As the article says, maybe I really am “getting what I paid for”: free apps but at the cost of rapidly declining battery capacity. At that rate, paying $.99 for an ad-free app seems like a bargain.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

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