So, Social Media is On Its Way Out?

This article was in the technology section of my local paper today as quoted from the San Francisco Chronicle.

They seem to think that social networking is on its way out.  People have been there, done that, and now they’re bored.  So, they just stop.

While there may be a bit of truth to that for some people, but I think the case they make is a poor one.

First, the reporter seems to come in to the piece skeptically.  In the second full paragraph, it starts with the sentence, “If you believe the buzz, the latest incarnation of the Web is all about sharing, connecting and community.”  It seems to me that the article is a bit slanted from that point.

Secondly, the reporter cites dropping audience numbers between August and September.  MySpace from 49.2 milion to 47.2 million, Facebook from 8.9 million to 7.8 million and Microsoft’s Life Spaces from 8.2 to 7.8 million.  Well, I guess it’s over then!  Sure, there are some fluctuations, but does that mean that the space is finished?  Absolutely not!  Maybe its leveling off.  Maybe the people who wouldn’t be interested anyway are moving on, who knows.  But, I think to take those numbers to mean that things are cooling is a bad way to interpret them.  There are still nearly 63 million people using just those three sites, according to the numbers quoted.

The part that truly gets me is the person they choose to focus on, Aarica Caro.  The reporter says she’s sick of sharing.  She’s tired of being part of all these sites and updating everything.  What’s she been sharing you ask?  Information about her cats…oh, and her favorite movies.  Sure, in that situation, I can see someone becoming frustrated (I’d be more frustrated as the reader than she is!) but I don’t think that’s the true audience for these new tools.  At the heart is content.  If you are presenting good content, and people are reading and responding, the social media space will not get old because people are engaged.  Sure, there have been times I’ve gotten frustrated with blogging because I sometimes feel that no one is reading, and I’m just typing these things for myself.  But, at the end of the day, maybe one person will read one of my posts.  And when I get a comment in, that’s what validates the efforts.

One thing the article does get right is from Michigan State University Professor Nicole Ellison, whose students are studying how college students use Facebook.  She says that they have found that people use Facebook to keep in touch with a wider network of casual acquaintances than those who don’t use it.  I think it goes further than that.  I think that people not only stay in touch, but make connections they could have never dreamed of without social media. I know I have.

That’s the real power.  Easily connecting people and fostering conversations. 

No, social media is not dead…far from it!

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So, Social Media is On Its Way Out?

Well Said!

Tara Hunt recently posted this great…well…post!

Basically, this is my feeling, except I’m still trying to achieve it.  I, like many bloggers, spend a lot of time just saying, “Me too,” or “I agree with so and so.”  My challenge is to try to develop original content.  To say things worth listening to/reading rather than being a copycat.

It’s not going to be easy.  I’m still trying to understand the ins and outs of my profession and many times the things that spark me to think ARE from other blogs or podcasts.

I think it’s important to talk to each other, to react to each other and often those, “This person said” posts are what lead me to new blogs.  But, I think we need more original content. 

Sure, everyone can post their opinion on a subject, and often you’ll get a well rounded view because everyone comes at an issue from a different angle.  But, what’s really exciting is when someone posts a new thought..a new view…a new idea.  Kathy Sierra is OUTSTANDING at this.

The only problem for me is trying to find something to write intelligently about.  Sure, I’m an expert at my thoughts, what I did today, but what in my day is worth reading?  This will be the challenge.  I’m not saying I’m going to do it well, but I’m going to give it the “old college try.”

Thanks for the inspiration Tara!

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Well Said!

“The Movies Were Bad!”

Ok, so this really isn’t about bad movies…but it could be.

While I didn’t often agree with the political views of the show, I LOVED the TV show “The West Wing.”  I thought the writing was superb, the camera work was engaging and the actors played their parts to perfection.

What has me thinking is one specific segment from the second episode of Season 2.  For those of you that haven’t seen the show, I’ll give you a quick overview.  At the end of Season 1, shots are fired at the President and top aides as they leave a town hall meeting.  We find out in the first episode of Season 2 that the Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford who is now on Studio 60…another show you should watch!) was hit by one of the bullets and is rushed into immediate surgery to repair various internal injuries including a collapsed lung.

That episode and the one that follows is then a series of story lines following the current story and numerous flashbacks to how each of the main characters came to be involved with the campaign and subsequent Presidential administration.

Ok, so that was the long way ’round to get to the part that I’ve been mulling over.

In that second episode, there is a segment that shows how the Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg (played wonderfully by Allison Janney) came to join the campaign.  As the clip starts, she is called into her office at a major PR firm to meet with the company’s president and an important client who is a movie producer or director.  He is upset that he is paying them for PR for his movies and they only received 2 Golden Globe nominations.

It is then that C.J. (Janney) explains the lack of success and sums up PR and Marketing in a short sentence.  She says, “They were bad movies.  If they were unknown, I could help you, but they weren’t.  The movies were bad.”

She continues on, and eventually gets fired, but to me, the sentiment of the constant struggle by PR and Marketing folks is summed up right there.  Often, after marketing and PR efforts don’t bring about the desired results, the “powers that be” blame the marketing, blame the PR.  They assume that if we, the “spinsters” had done our job better, they’d be getting the results/business they desired. 

That’s not always the problem.

Sometimes, it might just be that “they were bad movies.” 

We can promote/market until we’re blue in the face, but if what we’re promoting or marketing isn’t good…nay, isn’t GREAT, no one will care.  Dare I say, if it’s not a Purple Cow, people won’t notice.  Or, if they do notice, they will most likely be indifferent.

Contrarily, if the product/service/idea is great, or is worth knowing about, even small FAILURES at PR or marketing will most likely succeed because the strength of the offering will entice people to talk.  I know this topic has been done to death, but the message still hasn’t gotten through to far too many people.

So, let’s stop promoting “bad movies” and start creating things worth promoting. 

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“The Movies Were Bad!”

Why Second Life Fails…Or Does It?

Chris Clark over at Student PR blogs today about the fact that Second Life Fails.

Basically, he says that it fails because of a lack of authenticity.

While this may be true for some people, I think it’s the exact opposite for many. I think that the “cloak of anonymity” can often help people become more authentic because they know that they are protected from judgment and ridicule of the person they’re talking to.

Sure, some people use that “cloak” to misrepresent themselves…but you’ll have that anywhere. I think that just as many, if not more people use the buffer of Second Life to talk to people they’d never be able to talk to about opinions they may not otherwise share. I think Second Life gives people the opportunity to connect with people that they may not be able to in any other way…be it due to lack of confidence or lack of physical proximity.

I greatly respect Chris.

I think he’s very intelligent and listening to him I know he’s going to do great things. While I’m a few years older than him, I know I can learn a lot from him.

But, I think he’s a bit off track here because he seems to be dismissing something, a new communications tool, for a reason that I think can go either way.

One thing he does say that I completely agree with is that “big brands being in SL doesn’t validate the space.” Very true. The people, the connections, the communities and the friendships that are formed validate the space. No matter how many brands enter SL, it comes back to the Cluetrain way of thinking that markets are conversations. SL is just another way to foster those conversations.

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Why Second Life Fails…Or Does It?

Jaffe’s Response to Second Life Criticism

If you haven’t listened to episode 65 of Across the Sound, do it now.

I sent an audio comment to Joseph with a clip from a “best of” cd from a local radio morning show.  In the clip, the DJs discuss Second Life in a way that I think may be indicative of many of the uninitiated.  They view it as a sort of geek’s paradise.  Someplace where you’d find the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.

I think it’s sort of easy, at first glance to see Second Life as such. 

But, with further inspection, and with a little immersion in the experience and an open mind, you begin to see the truly great opportunity of Second Life.  To realize that the person you’re talking to in world is sitting on their computer, somewhere else in the world, talking back to you, engaging with you, is a stunning thought when you’re actually participating.

To be able to meet with people from across the globe that you’d probably never meet, is amazing.

To lower the guard and take down the barriers that people often feel due to status, money, success, etc. is incredible.

Will things go bad at times?  Of course.
Will people abuse the system.  Obviously, it’s human nature.

I think, though for those of us who are truly interested in using these tools for communication, for community, etc. (if only we could harness that power for good!), Second Life will continue to evolve and show its value.

Do I understand everything about Second Life?  No, of course not.  I’m still a newbie, still learning and not able to spend the amount of time necessary to truly become a “power user.”  For example, I don’t understand the concept of food, drink, drugs, etc.  That’s a little far out for me, but as I get more involved, grow and become attached, maybe I’ll be the one selling hot dogs on the corner.

I think that so many things that have become “standard” in American and world culture started with the vast majority being skeptical.  Usually, when the thing involves technology, it’s dismissed as something geeks do.  But in this world of people wanting to get more connected, meet new people, build communities…Second Life is going to fill that need.

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Jaffe’s Response to Second Life Criticism