July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
The social network apocalypse is near; well, at least for massive operations like Facebook.
Call me a dooms-sayer, but I believe that the days of massive social networks will soon be phased out by much smaller, more nimble networks which are not so much centered around the hobby of “friend hoarding”, but more so about the interests of the individual members themselves.
Take a look at two groups which have already ventured into the void of interest networking: Zurker and Little Monsters, the social network envisioned by Lady Gaga herself.
While sites like Zurker, the democratic social zoo look half-baked at best, it is a trial in a game of “what would happen if we let the people make the social network exactly what they wanted to be”. I suppose it could be called an early form of social network crowd sourcing, and yet it goes that one step farther than Facebook could. It allows users to not only build their identities withing the infrastructure of the site, but also allows users to suggest site features and ways to optimize the site by democratic rule.
It’s mildly revolutionary.
Not to mention that the users themselves have a stake in the fortune of the site; as an apparent reaction to the recent IPO disaster of Facebook, Zurker lets the members be the owners. By joining the site, users are essentially becoming their own stock holders, meaning the success of the site is directly correlated to the efforts of individual promotion.
So, in other words, you are like ants-the crowd, carrying a leaf- the social network.
Only slightly less disgusting.
Another case-in-point; take a look at the brainchild of Lady Gaga, the LittleMonsters.com social network. Building on her cult status, Gaga put power in the “paws” of the people (get it?) Part Pinterest, part Facebook, and 100% stunningly creative, Little Monsters harnesses the common traits of her following; tolerance, activism, and fierce dedication, to build a utopia of all things creative. And a utopia it is.
Although it is currently in private beta release, the little monsters site has had limited trouble with trolls and is generally a peaceful and creatively stimulating place to be. See, we aren’t all miscreants after all, Hobbes!
A social network by the people, for the people. It may not be a crazy idea after all!
And maybe it’ll even grow faster than Hobbes’s facial hair.
June 12, 2012 § 1 Comment
When Facebook acquired Instagram in April, the general reaction was “there goes Facebook, out to save itself by buying out its competitors”
While there is some truth to the opinion that a dying Facebook is trying to save face by buying out the closest threats (see what I did there?), they have also been on the path to doing something more- saving themselves by taking their eggs out of one basket and dispersing them into others.
It’s kind of like Easter all over again. Conglomerate style.
So what does this mean in places like the mobile market? After all, Zuckerberg has been considering taking the popularity of smartphones into his own hands (literally) by considering creating a Facebook phone.
Facebook has also bought out two up-and-coming apps: Karma, the instantaneous gift-sending app, and Glancee, the creepiest thing since Foursquare.
So what this means for mobile, my friends, is that Facebook can already imagine you picking up your Facebook phone, which through its Facebook apps will allow you to not only become friends with the nearest stranger within five feet of you and buy them a gift on command.
Oh yes, I can see it now.
But maybe, just maybe this is the way that things are moving. I move into my home under a rock next week, and you are invited to join me.
June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
Your friend is having a burrito down the street, your boss is eating at the pizzaria in the next town over, and your ex is at home, watching TV.
How do you know all of this? Enter: the age of obsessive self-tracking
It seems like now more than ever, with the invention of tracking apps on most smart phones and tracking-based social networks like Foursquare, people are becoming familiar with, if not overly eager, to report their every move.
It is so common that the life stages of your Foursquare addiction have been officially defined.
So what’s the problem with that? Well, first of all, you are completely opening yourself up to being stalked, but at this point, most individuals in our exhibitionist society are simply asking for it.
Oh, and you are completely opening yourself up to some unexpected visitors
“oh!” you say “now who would ever do that to me?”
Oh, nobody. We all just run on a trust system here.
So what’s a Foursquare addict like myself to do? Shut down my account? Live under a rock for the rest of my life and avoid all human contact?
Nope, neither, because they are both horrible ideas and require cutting away from a social network many of us have come to rely on.
So what do do?
What I have done, at least, is to remove automatic posting from sites like Facebook and Twitter where strangers can more accessibly see where you are at ay time.
And I promise this won’t cause them to miss out on your all-important life update, because really, no matter how interesting you think getting smashed at the bar at midnight is, not everybody really cares.
June 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
The tube, the tele, TV- call it what you want, but recently there have been increasing strides to expand the medium of television beyond the tv set.
GetGlue, the minor-scale networking phenomenon is a clear example that televison is becoming a more involved medium than ever before. For those of you who haven’t heard of the website, GetGlue allows anyone watching a television show to go online and announce what they are watching. In return for frequent posts, you recieve digital “stickers” which can be put on your website. If you prove to be enough of a couch potato, you may even be able to attain physical copies of the stickers you earned (I have officially earned GetGlue’s couch potato seal of approval, and I expect my stickers to be coming in the mail any day now)
In the words of my boyfriend- “so….what’s the point of this again?”
You see- emerging sites like GetGlue are more than a shameless marketing plug for broadcasting networks, rather I believe sites dedicated to networking in real-time are a sign of digital times to come.
Imagine this- you have not only access to your favorite shows online anytime, but in real-time you can connect with other Project Runway fanatics, creating a small network within itself.
That’s right- bringing social networking to a platform infamous for one-way media.
Fascinatingly enough, tied into this upcoming phanomenon will likely be the ability to merge computer and television platforms with an invisable seam (something that one of my favorite Project Runway competitors, Austin Scarlett, would know).
Serendipitously, today during a job interview, one of the head individuals from the company I was applying to told me that she herself was one of these early adopters. She could access the internet directly from her television, with some of the systems integrated in a way which probably won’t become mainstream for decades.
I was estatic to be honored in the presence of such an early adopter. “Whoa- that’s really cool!” I exclaimed “That really is so neat- do you like it?” Her reaction- “eh”.
Clearly, this integration could use some help. However, just today I heard of an app called Viggle- a bit of a quirky name with an equally quirky, but admirable, goal. Instead of taking platform integration from television out, Viggle is an early attempt at providing users with the early stages of phone-based integraton.
Viggle is essentially a step-up from the current state of GetGlue. While GetGlue allows users to post as they watch shows which they manually input and track for stickers, Viggle offers an especially motivating model. The user checks into a show by pressing a button on the app which picks up the sound from the show and connects it to the source, automatically not only checking the user in to the site, but also giving them the specifics of the show like the episode title and number. The user also earns points for each of the shows they watch, equating to special offers and promotions of specific partnering brands.
From a marketing standpoint, this model is utterly genius.
Viggle is truly a fascinating endevor, and I have no doubt that its efforts to build off of the emerging mainstream GetGlue web app, Viggle will someday reach the same level of GetGlue in popularity, if not surpass it.
Efforts like Viggle are not only appealing to our desire to network with those tha have the same interests as us, but also opens up a new medium to advertisers, who have long been on the hunt for innovations which will make “multi-platforming” a term of the past.
So when will the line between social media and the “idiot box” cross? Only time can tell.
May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Lately within the blogosphere, there has been news stirring about a new social network supposedly built “by the people, for the people”
The network is called Zurker, a seemingly strange possible reference and personal address to Zuckerberg of Facebook himself. The site promises that members will gain a part of the stock of the company should it go viral, trading in “vShares” from joining and recruiting members. This virtual currency, it promises, will be exchanged for a piece of the company itself.
This morning, I received an invitation to this site and signed up immediately. However, some things perturbed me about the site itself- who is the creator of this website? Where is the contract I need to sign onto to become an official company partner? And most importantly, why aren’t you like Facebook, and why don’t you want our money?
And clearly, I’m not the only one a bit weirded-out by this viral act of “goodwill.” Social media conspiracy theorists are already having a blast with this one, even though the network hasn’t even progressed past beta testing.
Zurker is doing what thousands of small social networks have (failed to) do: be the rising alternative to the “social networking dictatorship” behemoth that is Facebook.
But what really differentiates this network from all the others? You, too, could own apiece of it- not only this, but you also have a say in what updates the site makes through member voting.
“So you mean I could not only get the perfect social networking site and get rich just by sitting infront of a computer?” you ask. Well, if things go to plan, although nobody, not even the members of the site, know exactly what this plan entails.
While the site offers a share in the business, what is neglected is the concept that should the company gain steam and the value suddenly plummet for whatever reason, you can say goodbye to stock money and hello to being in the red. Simply, it is not a pleasant idea, and yet the site does not address it in the least.
Not to mention, that the creator, Nick Oba, has had previous experience in small, democratic, start-ups like Zurker; and not the good kind of experience. Most infamously, on his most recent venture, he worked to create a “by the people, for the people” entrepreneurial magazine called Fortitude, which ultimately crashed and burned, leaving members who bought into the business given no compensation but an IOU note.
He did promise his desciples re-payment in the form of Zurker stocks.Good intention or horrible business practices? This one is up to you.
But not that any of this matters anyway; if the world ends this year, I am sure there is no need for social networking in the afterlife anyway.
May 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Breaking news: Facebook is getting uglier by the minute!
Just when you thought that the website couldn’t ugly-ify its advertising anymore, they managed to do it again.
Not only do profile now include side banner ads, but they also include full-blown, flashing banner ads, like the kind that peppered sites in 1999. And they’re everywhere now on profiles.
What makes this ad-ification even more wonderful? Facebook enabled users to create a neat little niche for themselves on the internet, allowing them space to build their own personal brand.
What adding blatant spam ads does is the equivalent of giving your child a new playhouse, only for them to find that it is built out of cardboard and lint-roller sticky tape.
Here’s the thing; Facebook obviously had good intent (more so for themselves than anyone else), but it was executed horrifically. Simply put, business marketing 101: spamming user pages with paid advertising will not help you make friends, Facebook.
The last time I checked, the most effective way to advertise on Facebook was through word of mouth enhanced through social media. I am studying Marketing Communications, but hey, what do I know?
After all, Facebook used to be committed to bringing all of the social network without all of the ads to avoid becoming another Myspace
As a marketer worried for the brand image of this company, I have to wonder oh Facebook, what were you thinking? The company has already more than abandoned its vales, it has done the equivalent of dropkicking them into a city dumpster.
So what’s an internet megacorporation like Facebook to do?
Here’s one thing to start with- remove the banner ads, those invasive and irritating banner ads that are now at the top of everyone’s timeline because honestly, people don’t enjoy competing with per-click ad space for room to self-express.
Secondly, allow users more room for personalization, without going overboard. The company has long lost its “your own very special corner of the internet” feel in favor of a cookie-cutter profile that allows for next to no personalization beyond your name and picture.
And lastly, give me $100 per Facebook post, an executive seat on the board, and some pink fuzzy dice to put on my car mirror. That’s the most important part.
But not really.
May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare, Twitter, Google+, tumblr; these are just some of the social networks I am a part of.
Not to mention the accounts which I have tiered to one another through applications like GetGlue, Pinterest, and WordPress. And honestly, it’s enough to make you go crazy.
Yet, being at the forefront of technology is a must in Marketing Communications, which requires me to be an active part of one of one thousand networks.
If you are a member of two or more of these networks regularly, I have a simple question for you- WHY?
why, why, why do we need 2,000 different social media platforms to talk to the same 300 people. Actually, perhaps even less; Dunbar’s Number suggests that the average individual can only keep an average of 100-230 sustainable relationships at once. (a sidenote to friend hoarders on Facebook- I knew it all along! You probably haven’t talled to ALL of your 1,500 friends in ages! Hah!)
The answer: to keep public and private live separate, in different social networks so work and play stay at distance to one another.
what could go wrong?
A lot, actually.
I’m going to call it social network insanity, and it’s not pretty.
That was a picture of me when I woke up this morning. Don’t judge.
It’s characterized by hours spent creeping on the personal lives of Facebook friends, making 140-character-or-less tweets after every mundane activity throughout the day, and compulsively watching television for the sake of getting a virtual “sticker” that you have no hope of having the joy to actually see or hold in real life. Social media addiction is rough, true story.
But there is hope, and it’s called social network partnerships for the sake of my sanity, dear God.
It begins with social networks simply acknowledging each other’s existence and making their platforms less hellish to use simotaneously. New social networks like Branch Out, a professional social media platform akin to LinkedIn has already worked to lessen our insanity by providing their social network in the context of the already popular Facebook.
Twitter now enables tweets to be posted on Facebook as does GetGlue and Foursquare.
However, at present there is no single platform to really integrate these forms of social media, creating headaches for more than a few of us.
Facebook is trying, twitter has no hope, and GetGlue is the largest source of Facebook timeline spam I have ever seen. And it’s all right there, on a single timeline. Like dog vomit.
So the question now is, is there any hope for the social networking giants to put on their big-kid pants and join hands in a circle of love and friendship?
To Be Continued…