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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘mashable

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

Demanding Employee Social Media Logins May Create Big PR Problems

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Companies who force their current and potential employees to divulge their private social media logins and passwords may be setting themselves up for big public relations problems.

Several news stories in recent days and weeks have explored the increasing numbers of employees and job seekers reporting that their bosses are demanding access to their Facebook user names and passwords, so they can check up on what they are doing online.

Now HiringA story by MSNBC’s Bob Sullivan describes how applicants for jobs as corrections officers in Maryland were forced to log in to their Facebook accounts during the job interview, so that the employer could search the applicant’s photos for signs of gang affiliation.

The same story also described how the North Carolina state government asked applicants for clerical jobs to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords.

Now there seems to be some pushback against these kinds of demands. Mashable’s Sarah Kessler reports that Facebook may go so far as to initiate legal action against employers who demand their employees give up their login information to the social media site.

Meanwhile, politicians are getting involved as well. Politico’s Tony Romm reports that Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is writing legislation to prohibit the practice of demanding access to the social media sites of their current or potential employees.

I think employers certainly have a right to expect professional behavior from their workers. It’s also a prudent move for companies to check out a job seeker’s public Facebook page or Twitter feed. But the kind of heavy-handed intrusiveness discussed here, however, betrays a fundamental mistrust of their employees. And it brings them a whole lot of negative publicity that could have been avoided.

Companies who feel compelled to spy on the people they hire may find their best workers heading for the door. Once they’re gone, of course, the former employees are then free to use social media to cause all manner of public relations problems for their old companies.

If I were advising companies on their social media and hiring policies, I would strongly recommend they stay away from forcing people to open up their private lives. It’s much easier to leave the door shut than to open it and then regret the negative publicity that may result.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Customer Service is Critical

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Customer service is growing in importance as a path to a company’s financial and cultural success. Blogger Steve Sohn of Momentum writes that excellent customer service is a great way for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors. However, businesses that sell to individual consumers (B2C) are doing a better job than businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B).

When is a customer not a customer? The answer, I think, is “never.” Businesses have a responsibility to give the best possible service to everyone, whether they are individual consumers or other businesses, because even if you are selling to a business, you are still dealing with a live human on the other side of the screen or the phone.

More large corporations have come to the same conclusion that Sohn did, and are maximizing their return-on-investment for good customer service. Witness the great word-of-mouth for companies such as Comcast and Zappos.

Neither of these are perfect companies, but they have developed well-earned reputations over time for their quickness in addressing customer concerns and solving problems. In particular, they have become adept at using social media to solve problems.

Frank Eliason, the former manager of Comcast’s “social customer care” division, became famous (or at least Internet famous) for using the @comcastcares Twitter account to respond to customer service problems or issues. Brendan Brown of SocialTurbine writes that Zappos has enlisted its employees as its social media ambassadors, who Tweet and blog in a way that helps drive the company’s credibility to new heights.

My favorite suggestion from a Mashable article by Rohit Bhargava, “9 Ways Top Brands Use Social Media for Better Customer Service,” is number 3: “Help your customer service people feel like rock stars.”

If the employees on the front lines feel good about their company, and especially feel that their customer-centered efforts are valued and appreciated, they will go the extra distance.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

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

Targeting Multiple Media Platforms for PR Success

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Social Media - image via MashableAs a public relations practitioner with an interest in social media, I am always eager to read about the many ways these fields can interact with each other.

That is why I was pleased to read this Mashable article by Heather Whaling, “How to Take Your PR Pitches to the Next Level.”

While technically accurate, the title of the article does not quite do justice to the topic, because the article is really an excellent guide for media relations practitioners looking to use social media to sharpen the effectiveness of their pitches, and to widen the base of communicators that may be open to those pitches.

Based on my experiences working with local news media, the first suggestion makes the most sense: incorporate new platforms. Every local reporter I know is cross-platforming: the newspaper writer who also blogs, Tweets, and produces short videos; the television reporter who rewrites copy for the print-style version of their story on their channel’s website; the radio reporter who Tweets and posts audio podcasts of their news stories online.

Anytime my team can produce high-quality content that fits with a story these journalists are working on, in such a way that our content can be repackaged and featured on their website, I consider that a mutually productive, two-way communication outcome.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 4, 2012 at 7:28 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

The “It” Social Network of 2012

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Pinterest logo

That’s what PR Daily’s Arik Hanson is calling Pinterest. Hanson’s recent post on “17 Pinterest stats to show your boss or client” include these fun facts:

  • Pinterest is driving more Web traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace combined.
  • In the US, 97 percent of Pinterest users are women. In the UK, 56 percent of users are men.
  • Tennesseans are among the top users of Pinterest in the US.
  • Pinterest’s user engagement rate is between twice and three times as much as the same point in Twitter’s development.

The (very interesting) list goes on, but you get the point. Pinterest has staked a claim to the imaginations and online hours of millions of people, and is growing at a phenomenal rate.

The addictive nature of the social media site has, perhaps inevitably, spawned “junkie” stories like this one from the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak:

“I’ve made 17 attempts at writing this column in the past three days. The pattern is always the same: turn on the computer, log in to Pinterest and lose myself in the site’s churning cycle of interest, hope, inspiration, jealousy, desperation, despair and depression. Pinterest is the hottest new social-networking tool. And it’s digital crack for women.”

Since I am writing this on Mardi Gras, it might be fitting to note that, just as the New Orleans cops break up the Bourbon Street revelries at midnight on Fat Tuesday, Pinterest is in effect doing the same thing, taking away the punchbowl right when the party is getting good.

In this story from Mashable’s Joann Pan, Pinterest has released code that lets companies block their online content from being pinned to Pinterest users’ personal pinboards. The story notes that perhaps 99 percent of all pins on Pinterest violate its own terms of service, so in order to prevent being sued into bankruptcy, the company had to shut down the party somewhat, if it wants to stay in business in the future.

We’re only two months into 2012, but unless another social media site gets this big, this quickly, Pinterest gets my vote for the “it” network of the year.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm