Archive | April 2014

What happens after everyone’s on Facebook?

What happens after everyone’s on Facebook?

Will this ever happen?

ImageThe simple answer: it’s definitely possible. Though the world’s population just passed the 7 billion mark and is on pace to reach 10 billion by 2050, the use of social networking sites is also on the rise. But, wait, online social networking sites, like Facebook, are relatively young, compared to natural social networking like Humanity, which has been exponentially growing since the Industrial Revolution. The growth of online social networking sites would have to add everyone currently alive before eventually keeping pace with population growth. Considering that Facebook continues to grow at about 10 percent per year, this pace may be possible. Of course, the big limiting factor here is the fact that not everyone has access to the Internet. In fact, only 2.24 billion people are online, according to the latest figures from the International Telecommunications Union.

However, let’s pretend we live in a universally-connected world (which is very possible in the near future with continued development). Everyone has access to the Internet. Would everyone then make a Facebook account? The latest statistics from the Pew Research Internet Project tell us “yes.” Seventy-three percent of adults use social networking sites. With 71 percent of those online users having a profile, Facebook is far and away the most popular social networking site.

Great! Now, we’re all connected on Facebook. Now what happens? This is the playground of futurists and science fiction writers. As a fan of science fiction, I’ve read a few novels that include universal social networking-like themes.  Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars opens with the protagonist and his friends playing in a fully submersible virtual world. (I know some people who sometimes feel like Candy Crush and Mafia Wars are real life.) Of course, there are also lots of science fiction books and movies that depict futures in which people live there lives out in computer-generated realities (e.g. The Matrix). I don’t think this is our future, but I can’t  More often than not, science fiction is only fiction for a short time before it becomes fact. What reality will we choose to live in?

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Sneaky Marketing

As a kid, I remember shoveling into my mouth the last spoonfuls of my Honey Nut Cheerios, hurriedly draining my cereal bowl of sweet, sweet milk, and sliding the bowl and spoon into the sink. I would fly from the bar stool to the breakfast nook and speed down the hall to the computer room, where I would have 10 or 15 minutes to play Honey Nut Cheerios: Honey Defender before I leaving for school. I’d help Buzz the bee defend his honey against thieves so that the next box of Honey Nut Cheerios would be as delicious as the last. Little did I know General Mills, the maker of Honey Nut Cheerios, was using the game to get me to buy more cereal.

ImageIt’s all a part of a new marketing frontier called “Content Marketing.” Some businesses, like John Deere, have been marketing products through magazines since the end of the nineteenth century. Other companies, especially recent start-ups, are coming into the game during a boom fueled by the ubiquity of social media. Zapier--a company that connects different apps together–would not have existed a decade ago; however, today the company uses content marketing in a business-to-business model. Danny Schreiber, a Creighton alumnus and new content marketer at Zapier, visited my Social Media class to talk about Zapier’s content marketing.

According to Schreiber, content marketing requires extensive measurements of social media engagement, exhaustive promotion of the product, and meticulous SEOing of material. When he began his job at Zapier last fall, Schreiber outlined seven steps to successful content marketing for Zapier.

  1. Choosing a topic. The topic Zapier focuses on is productivity. Their weekly blog posts focus on increasing productivity in businesses.
  2. Effectively use six different content types.
  3. Finding ways to weave promotion into content. An example would be to include Zapier in a listicle of apps that improve productivity.
  4. Setting up an editorial schedule. Schreiber tries to post to the Zapier blog every Tuesday.
  5. Measuring. Schreiber determines whether views of blog posts convert to sales of the product.
  6. Promoting. Schreiber will often link to other products and blogs.
  7. Guest posting. He hopes linking to other blogs will encourage those organizations to share his blog post.

Content marketing is a budding frontier, with some measurable success. Well, it definitely worked on me. I still eat Honey Nut Cheerios to this day.

Too fast to the presses

Last Wednesday in my social media class, we talked about social media management during disasters and tragedies. Problems arise when news sources are quick to post unverified information on their social media. In the end, this misinformation becomes a source of embarrassment for the media outlet and a source of annoyance for media consumers.

ImageTake for example when NPR mistakenly reported that then Rep. Gabby Giffords had died from injuries sustained when a gunmman opened fire at a constituent meet-and-greet. As Alicia Shepard reflects, any glory NPR had from breaking the story of the shooting evaporated when the public radio mistakenly reported the representative’s death. Even those outside the news industry need to step delicately during crises. Businesses should wait before promoting their brand in the midst of disasters or risk harming their brand.

Unfortunately, a case study in social media management during a tragedy offered itself up hours after the lecture. An Army specialist at Fort Hood in Fort Hood, Texas opened fire, killing or wounding 19 of his fellow soldiers Wednesday. Twitter was instantaneously a storm of information about the shooting, from the number of killed or injured to the number of gunmen. And as expected, different news outlets were reporting different details. Some news outlets reported three deaths, while others reported 4 deaths, attributing the information to USA Today. It was later confirmed that three were deceased. Misinformation continued into the next day. CNN tweeted that shooter was an Iraq veteran being treated for mental issues, but the Army has disputed this claim.

If media outlets were not pressured to be the first to the scoop, then we wouldn’t have to question the verifiability of news. And I, for one, would wait for the truth than get served misinformation to the point that I can’t separate fact from fiction.