Posts Tagged ‘social’

FREE is becoming more expensive

October 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Internet users expect free services and content. News, email, games and social networks are among the most popular “free” services. Initially, web sites simply wanted your page views to fuel their advertising income. Then they asked you for your email to send you newsletters with ads in them. As advertising became targeted, sites demanded more information such as gender, date of birth, address and credit card number. Then social networks exploded and we willingly handed over our entire lives and relationships. With the current advertising formats being rolled out on Facebook and Twitter, our thoughts and opinions have become the latest data sets for marketeers. Mobile surfing means our locations are now on offer as well.

If we measure the cost of “free” services to a user in terms of the volume of personal data that he or she needs to reveal, it is clear that the cost of Free has a very high inflation rate. “Data is the new oil” is now a conference PowerPoint cliché and consumers are the oil reserves.

Will this change? Is there a time where people will demand compensation for revealing their personal information or for receiving customised marketing messages?

The obvious answer is No. Anyone who thinks the opposite will likely be old enough to remember life before the Internet. Privacy is on a one way trip to extinction.

Don’t waste your time mourning the loss of privacy. Instead, think about how your business can benefit from it to better understand customers, tailor services and exceed expectations.


Google+ and the existential question of our virtual self

July 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Joining Google+ has again forced the question that now faces everyone who lives in the dual physical world and virtual social media world: what part of you does your online identity represent? It used to be simple: Facebook for most started as the extension of your personal relationships (friends, family etc.). LinkedIn was the extension of your professional self. Gradually, the lines blurred, with twitter and Facebook interactions accelerating the mixed work-personal presence online.

When I first logged into google+, I was surprised to see that google had an image of my 1 month old baby daughter as my profile picture. After resisting the desire to check if someone was hiding in my closet or if a program was snooping on my laptop, I realised it is because that is the picture I had chosen in Google Talk on my phone. Google Talk is a tool I use for personal conversations with friends and family so no issues there, but I didn’t want my public google profile to have the same picture as I consider it “private” (in the modern sense of online privacy, ie not very private but not totally public either!).

But Google+ seems to be all social tools in one. Its stream is like Facebook’s. The profile page combined with the Work circle is like LinkedIn. Its “following” circle is like twitter. Hangout is like Skype (with Google Wave DNA). So what part of you do you put on it? How do you keep your professional and personal identities separate? Google’s circles try to help in this by differentiating your social groups so you don’t have to share everything with everyone.

Perhaps the question of trying to separate your personal and professional identities is no longer valid. In a digital world where information can be compiled and compared so easily, is it even worth the effort to present different versions of yourself? On the face of it, being your genuine self and transparency sound like great ideals to strive for. But in reality, I am sure all of us can think of examples where we prefer not to know the true nature of everyone in our social circles!

Categories: Social Media Tags: , ,

The Revolution was Televised, Tweeted, SMSed and Shared

February 12, 2011 3 comments

I just watched the speech announcing President Mubarak has relinquished power to the military in Egypt. The political ramifications will affect the entire world, and many others are more qualified to discuss them. On the other hand, media, both “traditional” and new, played a significant role as the events unfolded.

There is a pointless ongoing debate about whether social media (Facebook in particular) started this revolution. The proponents of this point of view disrespect the sacrifice of those demonstrating and dying on the streets of Egypt. It is clear that social media helped, initially, organize the protest but they continued to grow in size and intensity after the government shut down the internet and mobile networks. Mass radical actions need communication, and the internet certainly makes communication faster and easier. But even with Twitter, Facebook and the Internet, nothing would be happening if the demonstrators didn’t believe they had a cause worth fighting for and an opportunity to improve their lives.

Twitter and Facebook did help spread awareness of the events in Egypt outside the country. Many people in Europe and the US would not have known of the details of the events without access to social media. For example, A graphic view of twitter #Jan25 traffic shows the reach into Europe and the Eastern US during Hosni Mubarak’s last speech.

A new breed of reporter has emerged: the Tweeter Aggregator who live-tweets what they are seeing around them or on TV to followers across the globe. For example, @SultanAlQassemi increased his following to over 31,000 by summarising what he was watching on various TV channels.

Social media also allowed the correspondents of broadcast networks and print media to add a personal perspective from the ground. For example, @NicRobertsonCNN, @NickKristof (NYTimes) and @AymanM (Jazeera) gave vivid descriptions of what they witnessed first hand in a mix of reporting styles that at times merged their professional persona with their personal emotions without the filter of an editor or copywriter.

It is interesting that social media seems to have spurred activism while simultaneously creating a new breed of “activist keyboard potato”. Many people were happily tweeting and updating their status messages with some form of  “We are with you Egypt” messages. I doubt many of them did anything more than type those words and then go back to watching TV or surfing the net. No demonstrations. No messages to their congressman. No tangible manifestation of their support.  The ease of spreading messages through social media seems to allow one to safely feel they have done their part while other people are dying on the streets.

The events in Egypt also show that social media is enhancing and further supporting the role of the traditional television broadcast. Television has been declared dead many times, yet in Egypt it remained at the center of events. The protestors in Tahrir Square installed television sets to keep track of events outside their vicinity. When ElBaradei made a speech in Tahrir, he didn’t have the right audio setup so his message was hardly heard or communicated. Twitter amplified and debated information and speeches made on television. Social media is complementing traditional broadcasting and incumbent media companies need to learn how to use social media to their advantage.

Finally, any government that still believes it can hide events or misinform its citizens is simply delusional, IF a minimum level of technology and access to foreign media is possible. Anyone with a satellite dish knew the messages being broadcast by Egypt’s official channels was not a reflection of reality. The futile attempts to remove Jazeera from NileSat simply encouraged other channels and satellites to carry its signal. Satellite broadcasting continued even when the internet and mobile networks were shut down. Google developed a phone-based tweeting system when twitter was blocked. Foreign journalists could still access the internet because the government needed to keep some ISPs open to support the banking sector. The reactions to the statements from the Egyptian and American Presidents was immediate on screen and on social media.

As Egypt enters a new era in its history, so does media in the Middle East.

Categories: Social Media Tags: , ,

Tiesto vs @tiesto

October 29, 2010 1 comment

Recently, Tiesto was due to play in Abu Dhabi. The globally renowned DJ is active on social media and exists on twitter as @tiesto. On the day of the concert, he tweeted his arrival in Abu Dhabi and his excitement about the evening’s gig. Later in the day, news of the show’s cancellation began to spread (on twitter first). Tens of fans sent tweets to @Tiesto asking if this was true. Silence. Later in the evening, he made one tweet expressing his disappointment that the concert couldn’t be held. This again generated lots of tweets asking about the reason, refunds, and alternative dates. Silence. Eventually his management tweeted that he would answer all questions sent by fans in two days time. Two days later, Tiesto worked hard to answer the hundreds of questions from all over the globe. His final tweet apologised for those he couldn’t answer as he hadn’t expected “so many questions.”

This is the double-edged sword of social media. On the one hand, companies and celebrities can now connect to thousands and millions of customers and fans directly. On the other hand, these customers and fans now expect immediate answers to their questions as if they were having a 1-to-1 conversation. If the company or celebrity is not ready to react rapidly to unexpected events,  their social media presence may turn into a negative experience for them, their customers and their fans.

Categories: Social Media Tags: , ,

Original socialising

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A guy in Charlotte, with a crowd, a piano, and Chatroulette running on his laptop. Great way to turn a two way communication into a live event. Youtube video here.

Categories: content Tags: ,