Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

Is Facebook Gunning for Pinterest?

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Friendsheet, a Facebook app that was released in January, got a big publicity boost this week when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “liked” it on his Facebook Timeline.

Zuckerberg “likes” a lot of things, but with the eyes of the social media world constantly watching him, a stamp of approval such as this immediately gets noticed.

Mashable’s Brian Anthony Hernandez reported that one possible explanation of why this was noteworthy is that the app takes images from a person’s Facebook news feed and displays them in a way that is oddly reminiscent of Pinterest, the “it” social media network of 2012.

PinterestMy only thought upon reading this was “what took them so long?” As the hot new social media network, the leadership team at Pinterest has to know they have a lovely red capital-P-shaped bulls-eye painted on their backs. Pinterest’s user base growth is phenomenal, prompting not only envy among the other big social media sites, but perhaps some reverse engineering to try and steal a little of its magic.

It’s obviously too soon to tell if Friendsheet will lead to mass defections from Pinterest’s user base, but the upstart social site has to know that the clock is ticking if it wants to grow “too big to be bought.”

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.


Written by Charles Primm

March 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

A New Definition of Public Relations

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The Public Relations Society of America recently announced on its “PRSAY” blog that it had updated its official definition of “public relations.”

PRSA didn’t make this decision by executive fiat; it put the issue to a public vote. The top three definitions were posted to the PRSA website and votes were tallied over a two-week period.

The winning definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

As I have discussed before, there has been a struggle among PR professors as to what public relations is “really all about.” Some believe that the core of PR is rhetoric, the classical exchange of persuasive arguments, while others believe the fundamental organizing principle is the cultivation and management of relationships.

Each side of this argument can take heart from the newly-announced modern definition of PR. Rhetoricians can point to the phrase “strategic communication process” to make their case, since rhetoric is something that never stops. It’s an ongoing process of persuasion and counter-persuasion in the public square.

Meanwhile, relationship proponents can cheer because the word “relationships” is front and center in the new definition. And for those who know their PR scholarship, professor James Grunig of the University of Maryland has to be smiling at the inclusion of the words “mutually beneficial,” echoing his groundbreaking work on the two-way symmetrical model of PR.

Social media has a crucial role to play in the future development of both persuasive communication and the management of relationships. As Shel Holtz recently wrote in PR Daily, social media is changing the way that PR practitioners persuade their organization’s publics. For example, the tried-and-true news release is fading in importance, replaced by the well-timed Tweet or Facebook post. And social media itself is bringing together organizations and their publics in a human, one-on-one way as never before.

The old definition of PR had stood since 1982. With each year bringing new ways to connect and communicate, I suspect it won’t take thirty years to do this all over again. We will have no choice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

The British are Tweeting! The British are Tweeting!

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For many years, America has been the dominant international source of media and entertainment for countries throughout the world.

Movies, television shows, magazines and newspapers created in the United States have certainly had a major impact, sharing the American point of view and this country’s way of life to people who might never otherwise meet an American.

But that dominance may be about to end, thanks to social media. And the big winner seems to be Britain.

A new infographic published by Mashable on the “most viral news sources in the world” indicates that British media outlets BBC and the Guardian are numbers 1 and 2 on the list of media sources whose stories are getting more than 100 mentions on Twitter. On Facebook, the BBC, the Guardian and the Daily Mail are numbers 2, 3 and 4 on the list of media outlets whose stories are getting more than 100 “shares,” with the US-based Huffington Post in first place.

Is this a new “British Invasion” in the making? It certainly seems so.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Facebook Timeline: Your ‘Long Tail’ is Longer Than You Think

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As Facebook converts more of its user accounts to the new “Timeline” format, we citizens of what the Atlantic magazine terms “Facebookistan” have had to make some hard choices.

The timeline format displays, in chronological order, almost everything a person has ever done on the site, including pictures, links to articles, comments on or “liking” of others’ pictures and articles, and which celebrities and consumer brands they follow.

Facebook gives each person a bit of a grace period—some time to review the information on their timeline before publishing it to the web. For many of us, that means we have had to browse through a great deal of content, perhaps more than we remembered creating.

Looking down my timeline, skimming past all the content I knew I was going to have to edit, I was reminded of “the long tail,” one of my favorite concepts from the realms of both business and communication.

Chris Anderson wrote about the long tail in a Wired magazine article, and described it as a special kind of demand curve.

The Long Tail (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)In this graph, the green-shaded area to the left represents things that are in high demand, and the yellow-shaded area to the right represents things that are in low demand. The volumes of the two areas are roughly equivalent. In a business context, the aggregate demand for the plentiful low-demand items is around the same as the aggregate demand for the scarce high-demand items.

In editing my Facebook past for public consumption, I discovered that the timeline was looking awfully like a “long tail” as well. There were lots of entries packed into a short time period for the last two years. Beyond that, each month had fewer and fewer items, but the timeline just seemed to stretch on and on and on. I had no idea I’d spent so much of my life in social media.

According to the long tail theory, if I had a dollar for every social media activity I ever engaged in since I signed up for Facebook, I’d be twice as wealthy as if I had just recently signed up. So I think I’ll keep looking in the mailbox for my check from Mark Zuckerberg. I bet it won’t take that long. Not long at all.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

A Reality Check for the Biz Side of Facebook

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Facebook logoThe eMarketer newsletter is reporting that Facebook’s global advertising revenues will exceed $5 billion in 2012, up from $3 billion in 2011. Just over half of this year’s revenues will come from US advertisers, the report says, which is interesting because Facebook itself reports that approximately 80 percent of its active users are outside of the US and Canada.

So although only providing around 20 percent of the user base, US-based advertisers are expected to pump in a little more than half of all the site’s total ad revenues.

It sounds like a lot of money, and it is.

But to put that in perspective, $5 billion in revenues doesn’t even crack the top 200 list of global companies.

This list from Wikipedia, backed up by references including corporate annual reports and the Financial Times Global 500 list, shows that US-based retailer Walmart had revenues of $421 billion as of 2011. The next four on the list are oil companies: ExxonMobil ($370 billion), Royal Dutch Shell ($368 billion), BP ($297 billion), and Sinopec ($289 billion).

Filling out the bottom of the list at number 205, with 2010 revenues of $40 billion, was information technology giant Cisco.

So while Facebook is certainly showing strong revenue growth, it has a long way to go to match the true titans of industry.

And next year, it may not even be able to match the titan of the Internet, Google. Another eMarketer report predicts that Google’s online ad business will roar past Facebook in 2013 and 2014, at least in the US.

So the next time you’re in Walmart, checking Facebook on your smartphone, just remember that the company that Sam Walton built is earning over 400 times as much revenue as the company that Mark Zuckerberg built. And that’s just this year.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Audio Podcast: Social Media and the Newspaper Industry

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Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Kevin Slimp, director of the Institute for Newspaper Technology in Knoxville. Slimp discusses the impact of social media on the newspaper business, and some surprising ways that social media usage is changing our lives. Download the file here.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Audio Podcast: Social Media in the Classroom

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Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Lisa Fall, associate professor of public relations at the University of Tennessee. Fall discusses her experiences with social media in the classroom, both the brick-and-mortar kind and in online teaching. Download the file here.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 7, 2012 at 6:00 am

Facebook Backlash in 3…2…1…ding!

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Facebook logoIn elementary-school science class, we all learned about Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion. The one that stuck with me was the third law: “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.”

Watching the mostly-positive news coverage of Facebook’s announcement that it would be selling stock in May, I wondered when the negative stories about Facebook would begin to trickle in.

The New York Times answered that question today, not with a trickle, but a torrent of negative coverage.

Their three-part series leads with an opinion piece, “Facebook Is Using You,” by Lori Andrews. This article reminds us that Facebook uses its users in two ways: first, it depends on its members to generate, for free, the content for the website; and second, the company then turns around and sells the information gleaned from that content to the highest-bidding advertisers.

This is nothing we haven’t heard before, but it is an unpleasant reminder of how much “free” actually costs us.

The second article, “The Death of the Cyberflâneur,” by Evgeny Morozov, uses a somewhat obscure word in its title to describe how we all used to explore the Internet before Facebook, Twitter and news aggregator sites like The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report did our “Internet Exploring” for us. We were lone hunter-gatherers, prowling the savannah in search of information and entertainment. Now we are moving toward a world where Facebook (or something like it) is our one-stop shop: no learning any other URLs, no thinking required. Everything we want to know is served up to us in one place, and automatically shared with all of our “friends.”

The third article, “Europe Moves to Protect Online Privacy,” by Somini Sengupta, shines a light through the darkness by offering a possible way to increase the protection of our online data here in the U.S.: do as the Romans (and Londoners and Parisians) do. European privacy protection laws are much stronger than in the U.S., and it would not take much political clout to do the same thing here.

Can this happen? I think so. Will it happen? Only if people pay attention to Newton’s law and start pushing back.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm