For months now there have been rumors floating around that 2012 would be the year of the Facebook IPO (initial public offering). While many users and would-be investors are chomping at the bit for their chance to own part of one of the largest social networks on the planet, others (me included) are a little skeptical. This hesitation or “wait and see” attitude is caused in large by the disappointing IPOs for other companies like Pandora, Zynga, and Groupon in 2011.
Facebook and social media have been called tools of “mass distraction”. It is a common assumption that things like social media and the Internet distract people and students from the work they need to do. But is that true? A new study is out that could make you think otherwise!
Death is something that is somewhat a foreign concept to me. I have a fairly small family that isn’t really close to each other. Throughout my now 31 years of life when family members have died, I was never really affected because I frankly didn’t know them at all. Of all the funerals that I have been to in my life (a whole 6 or 7) only one was for a family member and I was too young to even process what was going on. The rest I have gone to in support a friend or my wife. Given this, I have a weird detachment from death and, depending on who you talk to, a very unconcerned or unemotional response to it. This is why I was really surprised today when I found myself genuinely sad when thinking about the death of Steve Jobs. Especially since I have never met or even seen him in person.
As I was trying to figure out why I ran through several possibilities. The biggest is that I am almost the quintessential Apple “fanboy”. I remember using Macintosh computers back in elementary and middle school. Typing my first class papers on them. I remember falling in love with Final Cut Pro back in April of 1999 and OS 9 later that year. I remember being super excited waiting for the UPS delivery guy when my first ever PowerMac was delivered in 2001 (a Quicksilver which still runs and is sitting on a shelf behind me). I remember being at NAB 2007 and dragging my co-workers to the Apple reveal of Final Cut Studio 2. I type this post using my iMac, Apple TrackPad, and wireless Apple keyboard. In a backpack next to me is my MacBook Pro and iPad. The network in my house is controlled by an Apple Airport and my wife is watching a video on her MacBook. There is not a day that doesn’t go by that I use an Apple device in some way, shape, or form. As I thought about it, though, this wasn’t the reason because while Steve Jobs gets the credit for Apple innovations, there are over 40,000 people that work for the company. There are many engineers, designers, and developers at Apple who are the true champions of these products. It was in this thought, though, where I realized why I was sad.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs
It is the job of a CEO to set the tone, direction, and vision for a company. It was Steve Jobs’ ideas, hopes, dreams, and vision that made Apple the company it was today. It was Steve Jobs’ dedication to outside-of-the-box thinking, consistent improvement, and the desire to change the world that allowed a corporate culture where amazing products were created. I am sad at the loss of Steve Jobs, not because I think of all the products his company made. I am sad at his death because someone that I looked up to as a visionary business leader, a dynamic speaker, and the type of passionate creative that I aspire to be is gone.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” ~ Steve Jobs
Mr. Jobs, I never had a chance to meet you, but I hope if I had, I would have been able to say thank you. Not thank you for the products your company has made, but thank you for being an inspiration. From your messages, quotes, and presentations, I have learned a lot. I hope that one day I will have an opportunity to be a visionary leader as you were and that I will always be able to summon the courage to live by the same motto you did, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the inspiration.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. … They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs
In case you have been hiding under a rock, you most likely heard that Apple released the new iPhone 4S yesterday. To some it is a huge announcement, to others that were expecting the release of the iPhone 5 it was disappointing. To me, a long time Sprint and Mac customer, it was amazing news as for the first time the iPhone is now available on the network. The most shocking part about it, is that one of the biggest announcements for Sprint in 2011 but if you look at Sprint’s digital platforms, you’d never know it. Talk about a HUGE missed marketing opportunity.
As of about 36 hours after the media announcement, all that Sprint’s digital platforms had to offer were a couple of tweets from the @sprint account promising that information was coming soon.
As a Sprint customer for over 10 years (with a one year break while working outside the US) and a die-hard Mac “fanboy” since 1999, this was the announcement that I was waiting for. The second it was announced in the Apple media event, I was loading up Sprint.com…. nothing. Went back an hour later with “early upgrade” money burning a hole in my pocket… nothing. Checked today (over 24 hours later)… nothing. Now being that every computer and media device I own is made by Apple and I’m not ditching Sprint, chances are whenever they finally get around to releasing the info, I’ll eventually upgrade. But what about all the customers they’ll need to conquest to meet their contractual obligations with Apple? Chances are many of them already have iPhones and both Verizon and AT&T are already talking about the new phone and offering pre-orders. Sprint’s marketing team… big time #fail.
Product development, Public Relations, Corporate Communications, and Marketing need to collaborate
I have worked for and with several large companies throughout my career and one thing that I find most often is that communicating internally across these four critical tiers is one of the most dysfunctional processes these companies have. In the end though, all marketing (especially digital) will only be successful when these areas are synced up. Imagine if Sprint’s digital marketing team had product pages and upgrade information ready to roll out the second Apple announced the partnership? Well I’d have my iPhone 4S pre-ordered and I’m sure there are a lot of other customers that would have done the same. In the end, there should have at least been some kind of messaging placed up digitally say in the event there were web technical issues. Twitter, while unreliable, is still up and so is Facebook and PR Newswire.
Sprint, I truly hope you find a way to generate some real excitement as, from what I understand, you’ve “bet the farm” on this deal and I’d really hate to see a rollout fluke like this bring the demise of my favorite wireless company.
As many of you probably heard yesterday, Facebook and Skype have paired up and now you can not only chat with friends on Facebook, you can also have video calls with them!
Eager to test it out, I downloaded the software/plugin via Chrome on my Mac and my wife did the same. When we tested it out, no dice. We both received an error saying the other didn’t have a webcam setup. This, of course was wrong as we both have built-in iSight cameras in our Mac computers. After tinkering with it for a bit, I found a solution that worked for us. So if you’re having problems with your built-in Mac iSight camera and Facebook video calling, try this out:
Update software and OS
The first thing you’ll need to do is update all your Mac software. This includes running Software Update to make sure the OS is updated as well as the browser that you’re using (Safari will update with the Apple Software Update tool). Second, head over to get.adobe.com/flashplayer to make sure you’re running the latest Flash Player. Once you’re done updating, I suggest you reboot or at least restart the browser.
The next thing to do is set up Flash and Facebook permission to access your built-in iSight camera for the video call. To do this, go back out to your news feed or profile and click on Video like you were going to share a video with your friends and then click on Record Video.
Next you’ll need to give Flash permission to use your built-in iSight camera. If the options box shown below doesn’t show up automatically, right-click or CTRL click on the video window and select Settings.
In the settings box, click on the second tab (Privacy), and select Allow, check Remember, and then click on Close.
At this point, your video might come alive. If not, try reloading Facebook or restarting your computer. Hopefully though, after setting the privacy settings, you should be good to go!
Enjoy chatting with friends and family with Facebook Video Calls!
Totally agree with Shel Holtz on a lot of his points. Don’t much see Google+ as a “Facebook Killer”… then again, it is still early. Biggest problem, I agree with is that there are over 750 million people using Facebook. I’m using Google+ because I work in the biz, but the idea of reestablishing social connections on another platform when I’ve already done it on Facebook (and manage connections with lists) is really tiresome and I don’t see casual users doing it…heck I don’t want to do it. Then again… it is stil early. So will it move beyond just a Internet Marketing/early adopter hang out? Time will tell.
PR and Communications Implications of Google+ (and Other Observations)
It seems one of the fastest growing type of website on the Internet is a deal/coupon service. The biggest of these so far is Groupon but there is also Living Social, Homerun, and about 1,000 other variations. Heck even one newspaper here in Detroit is doing it.
In case you’re not familiar with Groupon and the like, they are basically websites that offer a super discounted service or product from a business local to the user for a limited time. Groupon is only one day, but other sites like Living Social, AppSumo, Zulily extended their offers for a week or more. For example, today’s deal on Groupon for Ann Arbor, MI is 62% off a round of golf for 2 with cart.
Jumping on the bandwagon of this, probably after Groupon rejected Google’s purchase offer of $6-billion, is Facebook. In April, Facebook revealed Facebook Deals. Now it is running in a few testing markets (all you lucky people in CA) and setup as pretty much a Groupon clone.
Now you might ask, if Groupon is so huge, how is Facebook going to compete? Well I honestly think they’ll hold their own and stand a chance of beating Groupon outright for a couple reasons. The biggest is that they are hitting users where they are. For Groupon, users must either navigate to the site daily or open the daily email from Groupon. With Facebook Deals, the deal is show in the user’s news feed. Before the end of the summer, Facebook will most likely roll over 700 million users worldwide. That is a lot of eyeballs to place on Facebook Deals content verse the 35 million Groupon users reported in January.
The second main reason I think Facebook Deals will beat Groupon is that sharing is automatic and very easy and obvious. For Groupon, there is a small sharing section on each deal. While it is there, it isn’t integral. Plus users will have to connect Groupon to their Facebook profile to enable sharing.
Facebook Deals, on the other hand, has sharing front and center. In addition, depending on the user’s privacy settings, if they purchase a deal, it is automatically shared out to their friends to see.
As mentioned, Facebook Deals is currently only running in a few test areas in California, Texas, and Georgia. But I believe that if/when they roll it out, Groupon is going to have some serious competition for the top “local deal of the day” website.
Social media, when you think about it, is inherently a selfish medium. Users post statuses talking about what they are doing that day. I find videos on YouTube that make me laugh, so I post them so my friends can see how obviously funny I am since I found the funny video. I write notes telling people my opinions. At the core, social media is me sharing things I personally find interesting and broadcasting information about me…since everyone wants to hear about that, right?
For people, we give grace and just assume that is how social media works. For businesses, though, we don’t extend the same courtesy. If a business is on Facebook and only talks about their brand or their products, people will hide them from feeds, unlike, or unfollow them. An ExactTarget study showed that 43% of people unliking a brand on Facebook was because of too much marketing messages.
Social media users are there to connect with friends and family, not a business. So if a business is invading into this personal world, how do they get users to connect and listen to them? Think back to what social media is… a selfish medium. If a business is to connect and engage with a user, they need to give them something. They need to provide value.
A few studies have been done over the past year in regards to this and all point to the fact that users primarily connect with businesses in social media to get something. ExactTarget, in their Social Break Up study, showed that 26% of users reporting liking a business page to take advantage of a one time offer and 24% reported unliking a page because it didn’t offer enough deals. In a social check-in study done by digital agency Beyond, they found across the surveyed early adopters and current non-using consumers that almost 50% of them would check-in to a business to receive a coupon or discount. On top of that, 99% of them do not view getting a badge or becoming the mayor (Foursquare) a good enough reason to check-in. Users want to get something and that something needs to be valuable.
What does “providing value” mean to businesses in social media? In reality, that is something for each individual business to decide. Four of the main ways, in my opinion, are:
- Entertainment – This includes great conversation, videos, audio, podcasts, etc
- Sweepstakes and drawings – The trick is that these don’t have to be huge
- Coupons and discounts – These should be a good discount not available anywhere else
- Provide rewards for actions – Use a service like SCVNGR to give things to users for challenges completed all while promoting your brand
Does this mean that every car dealership out there needs to giveaway a free car to get fans and followers? It would help, but no they don’t. Do restaurants need to giveaway free lunches all the time? It would help, but no they don’t. Businesses simply need to take a look at what they do best and figure out ways to feature that while providing a hook to social media users. The car dealer might have a car wash, so have a drawing for free car washes for the summer. The restaurant may have a free dessert birthday club, so have them sign-up on Facebook.
In the end, it doesn’t need to be super complicated or even a high-cost investment, it just needs to be something to hook a user so they will allow the business to enter their personal, selfish, social media world.
Don’t get me wrong… I love Twitter. I like reading tweets, connecting with others in the social media industry, and seeing links to really great content. It’s because of this that I put up with the “Fail Whale” frequently yet continuing using Twitter. For someone to yet “see the point” or to use it, dealing with site errors and overages could mean the difference of them becoming a user or just trying it and walking away.
Twitter, I love you… but if you can’t work out all the kinks in your reliability, I don’t see you moving past 10%-15% usage for the adult Internet population in the US.