Facebook Isn’t The Sky, Everyone Can Relax

I find the recent hysteria about the declining Facebook use of kids and teens to be pretty silly. What did everyone expect? That ONE social network would be cool for more than a single generation?

The reason this all seems funny to me is that I don’t view this as a problem, and advertisers shouldn’t either.

Facebook currently has somewhere around 1 billion users. Those users are made up of basically everyone you have ever met or could possibly meet. Change is hard for anyone, but the less-than-super technologically savvy take a while (if ever) to move from one social network to another. More to the point, most adults have no reason to leave Facebook. They’ve already learned how to use it, and a lot of their old friends and family members are on it.

So why should this be comforting to advertisers?

Before not too long it will be clear which new social network kids are moving to. Then advertisers can add those sites into their repertoire. Aside from the hyper-aware/overprotective parents, most aren’t going to hop on the bandwagon for whatever 12-16-year-olds think is cool. Advertise on both. Market to everyone. That’s the way the game has always worked and always will. Maybe it will be for the better. Maybe advertisers will figure out a better way to target their marketing towards adults on Facebook, and then find more creative ways to market towards kids elsewhere.

The secret to marketing is having a cool product with a compelling story- that people actually want and need. So maybe we should be focusing more time on making things that people actually want, and less time trying to sell people things that they don’t.

PS. Check out Cliff Watson’s awesome post, “Teens aren’t abandoning ‘social’. They’re just using the word correctly.”

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In Case Of Emergency, Alert Social Media

In Case Of Emergency

I found out about the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday from Twitter, while sitting in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. My Twitter stream and Facebook news feed were flooded with hopes, prayers and news stories about the ongoing crisis. Googling “Boston Marathon explosion” brought me to a New York Times article posted two hours earlier. Flipping back to Twitter I saw someone had posted a Vine of the actual explosion. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if this was really something I wanted to watch, before clicking play. Police are now requesting videos or photos from anyone who witnessed the event in an effort to piece together what went so very wrong.

 With the slew of social media evidence of this atrocity joining the Internet’s infinite photo album of human suffering I have to wonder, to what extent are we being negatively desensitized by social media? It is obviously important to understand what is happening in the world, but how much is too much?

Another recent event comes to mind when considering the effects of social media on emergencies. One month ago a vigil was held in Brooklyn for a 16-year-old who had been killed by police. The shooting, however, was not the main story. Residents who participated in the vigil marched to the 67th precinct as a form of non-violent protest. Social mediaites present or following the story began to tweet about the protest with the tag “#brooklynriots.” Participants quickly became active on Twitter requesting that those tweeting about the event use “#brooklynprotest” instead, in order to prevent any misunderstandings about the nature of what was occurring. This points out the fragile nature of social media in emergency situations, and has opened up a debate about the use of specific words.

When social media acts as a rumor mill, it can have devastating effects. To me the real problem, however, is the effect that constantly updated news is having on the attention span of empathy. It is a safe bet that in one to two weeks from now the social media streams will be clear of mentions about the Boston Marathon explosions. They will be refilled with other information, likely including a few new disasters or catastrophes. My concern is that we are losing the ability to care about anything for more than a few weeks. Aren’t families still suffering from “superstorm sandy”? Once individuals confirm that their own loved ones are safe via text messages or phone calls, do they stop paying as much attention to a catastrophe if it doesn’t directly affect their lives?

I do believe social media has proved itself to be a valuable tool in times of emergency, but at the end of the day I still wonder, are we only concerned with what everyone else is talking about?

Facebook Is What You Make Of It

Facebook Logo

One of my close friends recently deactivated her Facebook account. When asked for the reason she told me, “This morning I saw a status update from a girl I haven’t spoken to in years. The status was about how bummed out she was about being unable to take her puppy back to school because it hadn’t had it’s shots. That was the moment I felt completely over knowing minute details about the lives of people I barely know.”

Fair enough.

I think it’s a safe bet that most people who have been on Facebook since the early years (ahem 2005) have at one time or another considered deactivating their accounts. Although I have seen a number of friends deactivate, most have reactivated. The most common reason for re-joining the herd is FOMO (fear of missing out) related to all those events, handily posted to Facebook.

Fact: It’s hard to be in the loop and not on Facebook at the same time.

What I want to advocate here is not settling for being bombarded with useless nonsense about people that you barely know.  I want to advocate for curating your Facebook accounts to deliver you relevant information about people you actually care about. (That shouldn’t sound as refreshing as it does.)

Do some spring cleaning.

I regularly go through my “friends” list and try to delete anyone that I can’t remember talking to within the last six months. For those of you worried about cutting out people permanently, Facebook has added a nifty “unfollow” feature that will allow you to remove said “friends” from your news feed. The “review tags” function is also handy, especially with so many employers scouring potential employees’ Facebook accounts for incriminating photos. On the note of employment…

Facebook as a professional tool? Yes you can!

When I started working in the Bay last summer I was unsure how to approach being “friends” with my employers on Facebook. The obvious solution was to make a second, professional account. Before you write this off as too much effort, let me say it was one of the smartest things I’ve done in a while. My professional account is kept on public, and allows me to share blog posts with the family members, teachers and colleagues who don’t necessarily need to know every detail of my personal life. If you search for my name on Facebook you’ll find my professional account, not my personal account. Oh, and the best part? You know every time you’re asked to log-in to a site through Facebook? I use my professional account, with no worries that my private information will be accidentally shared with the world.

The last point I want to make is in relation to a somewhat disconcerting trend I’ve noticed recently. Not only is “Facebook stalking” a real thing, a waste of time, and (very) creepy, it is also proven to affect overall happiness and self-esteem. If you find yourself wasting time on Facebook doing this I’d recommend adding a Google extension like StayFocusd. Another good trick is to not keep your Facebook automatically logged-in.

Now log off your Facebook and go play outside, it’s Spring!

 

 

Leaving The Nest and Learning To Tweet: Using Twitter as a Professional Tool

circa 2011

A moment from the pre-historic pre-iphone years

I’m going to be honest. When I first heard about Twitter back in 2006 (seven years ago? yikes..) I thought it seemed pretty silly. At fourteen my Facebook feed was filled with the narcissistic statuses of my peers, and I assumed Twitter would be nothing but that. By the time college rolled around I had sheepishly jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. I used my (private) Twitter account like most people my age, recounting “hilarious” occurrences in my daily life. I followed somewhere around 200 other accounts, and my Twitter feed was filled with garbage that failed to interest me whatsoever. As far as I was concerned, Twitter was a pretty big joke.

Then one day I entered the startup world, and my mind was changed forever. Never before had I experienced such a technology infused life as exists in the Bay Area. People in the Bay eat, sleep and breath technology to an extent I couldn’t have imagined.

Over the course of my work with LiveLovely and a recently started curation internship with The Fetch, I have begun to understand the fine tunings of Twitter as a social tool. The site provides an incredible opportunity for networking, providing praise and encouragement to others, and most of all sharing content and ideas. While imitation has always been considered the highest form of flattery, in 2013 I think the ‘re-tweet’ has won that prize.

As a Social Media Manager (with a new Twitter handle) I’ve come to a few conclusions about the best way to use Twitter. If you’re trying to grow your followers, don’t go fishing. Instead, (and here’s a camp counselor analogy for you) make your peanut butter covered pine cone bird feeders (post interesting and engaging content) and the birds will find you. What makes a good tweet? Before you post a tweet take a moment to ask yourself “would this make me smile/laugh/think/want to retweet if someone else tweeted it?” By posting thoughtful and engaging content you increase your chances of attracting high quality followers who will be worth following. If you’re looking for a response from a corporate account or you’re trying to be retweeted use all the spelling and punctuation rules you learned in elementary school, be appropriate, use your real name, and incorporate the [@]whoever into your tweet.

If all else fails just remember, the internet loves cats.