Blog Archives

I have a new crush, and it's a cobra!

Are you following @BronxZoosCobra?  If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the Bronx Zoo has lost a rather venomous snake*, an Egyptian Cobra, and in the ensuing New York panic, an incredibly clever person created a Twitter account in the name of the snake.  Despite the fact that @BronxZoosCobra is only following one person, their funny tweets have got them nearly 200,000 followers in under a week, myself included.

Despite the fact that there’s almost no chance that the snake has left the reptile house, New Yorkers’ fear of animals created the perfect opportunity to both ridicule and support New Yorkers and the snake has done just that with its posts.  Ranging from jokes about the original Ray’s Pizza (there are probably 60 places that claim to be the original Ray’s) to jokes about sneaking into chimneys and open apartment windows at night, @BronxZooCobra is the perfect mix of NYC insider and comedian.

What I particularly like about this is that it shows that being particularly clever and topical can get you a lot of attention, even though the market is already saturated.  This is good for businesses and self-promoters, if you’re witty and quick on the trigger you can still be really successful.  @BronxZooCobra has already promoted some local businesses, but just imagine how much self-promotion the person behind could do – social media has the power to create significant fame quite literally overnight.

*Although many media reports erroneously say it’s poisonous, it is not.  Poisonous means you can’t eat it, and you can eat cobras just fine, you just don’t want to get bit!

Have some tweets:

Indiana Jones, why'd it have to be Indiana Jones?

Getting my morning coffee at mud tuck. Don't even talk to me until I've had my morning coffee. Seriously don't. I'm venomous.

Dear @CharlieSheen, know what's better than tiger's blood? Cobra venom. #winning #snakeonthetown Also I'm 20 inches long. Just sayin'.

Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious

The Empire State Building: “All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice. #snakeonthetown

Want to clear up a misconception, I'm not poisonous as has been reported. I'm venomous. Super venomous, but not poisonous so don't worry.

Google +1 Button: Not Buzz

Google has apparently not learned its lesson when it comes to getting involved in social ventures, and is rolling out a new feature called the +1 button, which is essentially equivalent to Facebook’s “Like” button.  If you’ve got a Google profile, you can see what your friends with Google Profiles have +1ed and, unlike Facebook, you don’t send out notifications every time you +1 something.  In other words, you only see +1s when you get the site in a search result anyway, so it’s like a personal recommendation tailored to your search.

See +1s

 The other thing that is slightly different than the “like” button is that Google is integrating the results into their overall search engine algorithm.  Though they haven’t explained exactly how that will work, one assumes that sites with more +1s will end up higher in the search results than those that haven’t been +1ed.  We’ll see how long it takes for businesses to try to take advantage of that.

Social media has been a struggle for Google, especially since their debacle last year with Buzz.  Although they immediately addressed the privacy concerns and general uproar, Buzz failed to take off and it earned them a visit from the US Federal Trade Commission for being misleading in their tactics and not upfront about their services.

This +1 button seems to be a nice marriage of what Google already does well, searching, with the more social aspects of the web.  Hopefully they can avoid the criticisms they had with Buzz, since this will be strictly opt-in, and it seems like it could further personalize web search results, which is great.

Here's the video introduction from Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAyUNI3_V2c

Women and The Internet

It has long been a truism in the advertising world that men may make the money, but women control the purse strings, just watch any episode of Mad Men. All you have to do to see the truth of this is to look at those popular Old Spice Body Wash commercials, here’s a product aimed solely at men with commercials aimed primarily at women.  Even with this conventional wisdom, you might be surprised to know just how skewed the internet is to women users.

The majority of users on all social networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter,are women, and women spend 30% more time using them than men.  55% of mobile social networkers are women.

Looking at Groupon stats, over 3/4ths of their users are women.  And that stat is similar across most online shopping and coupon services, from obvious sites like Etsy to more surprising ones like Chegg, a textbook rental service.  Social and casual gaming (think Farmville and Angry Birds) is also dominated by female users.  The numbers are staggering.  Not only are women the majority users, they are by far the most interactive and social.  Women maintain larger and more in-depth relationship circles on the web.

What does this mean for you and why am I throwing so many stats your way?  Well, for a start, it means that when you’re advertising online, you should be aware that women are going to be the most important and influential demographic to aim for.  Are you testing your products on women?  Are you taking into account what women respond to, what they’re looking for, and what turns them off?  Do you have women on your team?  So many tech companies are dominated by men, if you’re looking around you at a sea of male faces, you need to reach out to women, especially in your social marketing strategy.

More information, stats, and inspiration available here from the incredible Aileen Lee .

Sheryl Sandberg looking Badass

Gratuitous picture of Facebook's COO looking Badass

Busy!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there was just too much going on?  That’s the sort of week I’ve been having.  It’s been good, great even, I’ve just had a lot on my plate.  I love the freelance writing I’m doing but, between working full-time and tutoring and trying to attend local freethought events, my weeks are already too full.  Then I got a special assignment from Social Axcess to cover NCAA Social Media for March Madness — so that required a lot of research, because I don’t know much about American sports, and I know even less about college sports.  This is because I resented being forced to go to prep rallies when I was in high school — I have a block when it comes to school sports.

Then I was learning a courier route at work, meaning I spent all day in a car driving, so I was working overtime and not in front of a computer. And I had a 1500 word piece due.  And I got laryngitis.  And it’s spring, so my allergies are in full bloom.  And someone wanted to consult with me about an editing project, which I just can’t take on right now, but it’s interesting.

Exciting news!  I’m going to the SCA Conference in Washington, DC right before my birthday.  Which reminds me that I need to put together some information on Social Media Strategy for them in the next day or two.  I hope I get the chance to see a little of DC, I went when I was in 8th grade and that was before I’d seen The West Wing and thought that there was something worth seeing in Washington.

And the world is apparently falling apart, but I haven’t really had time to absorb that.  CNN has just had one too many “Where is God in Japan” headlines for me to stomach trying to follow the daily news cycle.  And the Nicholl opened, and TAM registration opened.

So it’s Sunday and I still feel on edge, like I should be working, and there’s still plenty on my plate, but I’m taking a day off.  Of course, my brain is still going a million miles a minute — I don’t really drink, but maybe I just need a drink.

Nothing to do with the rest of this post

Group Texting is so hot right now

SXSW is known as a geek battleground, where apps and ideas compete with one another for dominance.  Last year, several location based apps likeFourSquare and SCVNGR fought, and FourSquare came out the industry leader.  This year, the focus has been on Group Text applications.  The first big Group Text application was from GroupMe, and most of the other companies offer a very similar service.

Basically, these apps allow you to create private groups on your mobile phone, even on not terribly advanced ones, and then send texts to everyone in the group.  Sort of like yahoogroups for text messages.  You can also send pictures, videos and do conference calls and it has a location based check-in system, sort of like FourSquare.  And it’s free.  GroupMe is the undisputed king of this realm, doing over a million texts a day, at less than a year old, but there are other Group Text services as well.

Another star of the Group Texting world is Beluga, which was founded by some ex-Googlers and was bought by Facebook.  It offers basically the same service as GroupMe, but now that it’s owned by Facebook, it may be integrated into their site rather than a stand alone product.  And users hate having to transfer their social data network to network, meaning that the start ups are now fighting the giant of Facebook.

Kik is an app that just got $8 million in funding, and launched in October.  It’s an instant messaging app that has incorporated SMS just recently, meaning that like the other apps listed here, you can use it from a “dumb” phone or computer.  The difference is that unlike the group messaging, you can create groups, but you don’t have to send them all the message — you can use the service for individual messaging, partial group messaging, or entire group messaging, much more like email.  You can also join or leave conversations in progress.

There’s also Ask Around from ask.com (remember when it was Ask Jeeves?), which functions as sort of a local twitter/FourSquare feed – you see updates based on your location, or any location you give it.  So it’s group texting, where the group is people close by.

And there are others that offer services almost identical to GroupMeGroupFlier (which has public groups), Brightkite,Fast Society, Text Plus (which has advertising or a fee, and has 20,000 groups dedicated to Justin Bieber), Grouped{in} (which offers some integration with Facebook and Twitter), PingChatEZTexting (charges a fee),groupflierRabblyprotexting, WeTXT, and undoubtedly a dozen more.

Cross posted from Social Axcess.

Testing Postling

Do any of you use social media management tools?  I'd never even thought to look into them until the company I write for, Social Axcess, asked me to create some profiles of a couple SMSS sites.  Right now I'm looking at Postling.  I'm mostly looking at Postling because it's free, which is a huge draw for someone like me who isn't really selling a product so much as selling themselves.  I will say, it seems like the biggest benefit to using Postling isn't just that it links your accounts, though it does do that quite nicely, but also that you can easily keep up with all the accounts that you've created and let fall by the wayside.

For example, I have a LinkedIn account that I visit about once every six months.  I didn't even realize that you could update it almost exactly the same way you update Facebook.  If I decided to replace my normal perusal of FB with Postling, my Linked In account would suddenly have activity, which I think is a good thing.  I would also probably update my Twitter more often, because it's really easy to write something and then decide which places you want to post.  In other words, unlike the tools that can automatically link your FB and Twitter account, it's both simple and necessary to dictate where all something you write gets published.

Of course, the only reason I'm writing this right now is to test out the blog writing tool within Postling.  Next… I'm going to see if they've got an Android App.

Oh, the other cool thing is that I could write like 30 articles and have them post at different times.  Which you can do with other things too, but this is free and I'm looking at it!

The break up alert phenomenon

Broken heart or perfect opportunity?

Originally posted at Social Axcess

One of the most difficult things about the rapid expansion of social media is the explosion of data that it provides without any real simple solutions to accessing histories or things you’d particularly like to access. This void in the world of Facebook and Twitter has all but invited others to come in and try to take advantage, to offer services that one would think Facebook or Twitter would be providing for you. Because of the sheer volume of updates and information, it is difficult to track down some information that you’d like to have and no social media network seems to be trying to make it easier.

Enter apps like “Break Up Alert”, an app that is approaching a million users despite being only a few days old. All the app does is inform you on changes in your friends’ relationship statuses, something that would normally be in your News Feed but might get lost in the crush of status updates. And it let’s you personalize it –is there a hot girl you know who’s been dating some loser, well you can add them to a list that will focus on people you’re particularly interested in. Sort of a stalker-light sort of program –it takes the work out of stalking.

Now, this is bringing up all the privacy concerns that many people have brought forward about Facebook, but it’s just making access to available information slightly more straightforward. This ability to monitor particular behavior from particular users in Facebook is really useful, though. Unlike keyword searching in Twitter or scrubbing your feeds, this allows you to find something your interested in and be always updated every time something changes

I think we’ll probably be seeing a lot of personalized update systems like this for social networks to allow people to find and be alerted to things they’re interested in. Say you’re interested in movies, there could be an app that consolidates any time someone in your friend group recommends or pans a movie they’ve seen. Or use it the other way, if there’s content you hate, you could block it from your News Feed. Hate constant updates about church on Sunday? Block them. There are so many useful ways to play with data and feeds that I can only hope that people who are better at programming than I am get in on it soon – I’ve got more ideas, call me!

Michael Hawkins on Luke Vinci’s Anti-Ashley Post

You know what’s even better than writing a blog post?  Having someone else write a blog post you can just link to as though it’s additional content in your own blog.  This is also just a lesson in recursion – linking to a post that links to your post.

Youtube for Non-Profits

image

Expanded from original post at Social Axcess.

I am a big fan of the arts and, particularly, the arts in education.  I’ve spent a lot of time in my life either working on the business side of arts, like in film, or volunteering in artistic communities or for arts groups.  I think people are drawn to causes because they have personal meaning to them in addition to doing good, and I grew up in the arts community.  Creative pursuits made public school very nearly bearable and, in addition to my own anecdotal evidence, many studies support the fact that access to arts has a major positive impact on grades and scholastic success.

The site I write for is about Social Media, with a bent towards businesses, and while most of what they post seems to be aimed at for-profit businesses with a product to sell, non-profits can use a lot of the same tools to make themselves more successful. For example, in the state of South Carolina, the new governor, Nikki Haley, has threatened to completely cut the budget for the Arts Commission and ETV/NPR Public TV and Radio. In response, the Arts Commission has engaged in a small scale social and traditional media blitz, particularly on Facebook, that’s meant a lot of calls and e-mails to the representatives of the state and some spinoff groups joining the cause.  (Full disclosure: I’ve volunteered for SCAC on multiple occasions)

I bring this up not to toot the SCAC or etv’s horn — before the budget is finalized, it’s unclear how successful they’ve been — but because YouTube is launching it’s 5th Annual DoGooder Non-Profit Video Awards and it’s reminded me of how important it is for non-profits to exploit the same marketing and advertising tools that any business has access to. For the YouTube competition, The Case Foundation will give out $10,000 in grants to video winners and they’ll all be featured on the homepage of YouTube –advertising probably worth way more than $10,000 in eyeballs.

YouTube has also launched a page for non-profits which will be a channel dedicated to sharing non-profit messages. Joining not only gives you exposure, but access to Video Volunteers to help make your video a reality if your organization finds the process of making videos out of their reach. There are also lots of tips and guides, so if you’re a non-profit thinking about expanding your online presence, you could do a lot worse than starting with youtube.

This is, of course, great for any non-profit not just the arts.  I think any atheist, secular, gay rights, womens rights, or any of the absurd things I support could benefit, so if you’re associated with one, spread the word.

Response to a ‘Correction’

image

As you all know, I’ve been reporting on Social Media for a website called Social Axcess.  I reported on the iPhone confession app, which allows you to figure out which sins you need to confess, and I got a somewhat heated reply from one of the founders of GSMI, the company that owns the blog. His name is Luke Vince and he felt the need to ‘correct’ my article, call me myopic, and spell my name without my middle initial. Perhaps it is madness to argue with company higher ups, but I’m afraid I’m terrible at resisting the temptation to get into a good online discussion.

Usually when I see the word correction, I must confess, I think that there has been some sort of editorial or factual error in another article, but it seems that what this actually is is simply a difference of perspective.

His first ‘correction’, in response to my claim that it’s been a rough couple of years for the church, is that the current assaults (really?) by the “new atheist” (his quotes) movement are nothing new, the church is growing in some places, and always emerges stronger from strife.  These are non-sequiturs, he is arguing against a point I never made.  Regardless of the history of the church or its ability to bounce back, it has been a rough couple of years for it.

The church is shrinking in the West where the majority of its funds come from, and growing in the East, South America and Africa. It is losing members of the priesthood and interest in joining the priesthood, facing a major shortage of priests. It is facing constant negative media pressure because of the sex scandals. I nowhere claimed that the current problems it’s facing are the worst in its history or impossible to recover from, but it would be myopic indeed to pretend that they didn’t exist.

He also says, in response to my claim that the church is slow to respond to things like changing moral opinions and the AIDS crisis, that it is because the church doesn’t succumb to whims or move quickly and that this has served them well.  Obviously, we also disagree on whether slowness to respond to current problems is an admirable devotion to tradition or a dangerous resolution to keep its head in the sand. But we don’t disagree on the actual fact, which is that the church is slow to change.  The glacial response time in condemning nazis, condemning the inquisition, and addressing the complaints of Martin Luther seem to me to show a devotion to slowness that is neither good for the church nor moral.

His final complaint, excuse me, ‘correction’, is that the confession app doesn’t replace any sacraments but rather is an aide to helping Catholics figure out how they’ve sinned.  Nowhere did I say the confession app replaced anything and we agree on the fact that it is a good move for the church, we simply disagree on how laughable it is.  I can’t imagine belonging to an organization that has so many silly rules that I need assistance in figuring out if I’ve broken them or not.

Perhaps I am most disappointed, however, that the writer felt the need to personalize his defense as an attack on me but proceeded not to make one point in response to anything I actually wrote.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers