RANT: Friend Privacy Spam on Facebook

Editors note: I develop these “Rant” style posts usually on the drive home from work, where I can’t ask Siri to write and post them for me. Consequently, my really good points don’t make it farther than the four doors of my trusty Camry. I’ll work on my blogging frequently and content quality if you, the reader, thinks it worthwhile for me to do so. 

I finally got sick of seeing the Facebook post that starts with “PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning…” and clicked more just to read what the latest friend-inflicted spam was making its rounds on the Internet. (Does this stuff still spread via email and get copied/pasted to Facebook?)

Latest user-spam on Facebook


First off, it’s user spam. Made prevalent by the same uninformed site users who previously brought us “New privacy settings will let your old childhood friend name your new puppy before its born” spam posts and “Quit Facebook Day” (all 33,000 of you, who most likely have rejoined since June 1, 2010).

The privacy notice is nice in theory, but since you’ve already granted the permissions you want to take back by accepting this website’s Terms of Use, how do you think you’ll get Facebook, Inc. to agree to your terms?  Taking back your “private information” that you’ve already made public (under the existing Facebook terms) can only be done by deleting all of your content from the website (that you self-published) and then deleting your personal account from the website.

No wonder posting some BS privacy notice on your personal (read: PUBLIC) profile is easier than giving up Facebook for most.


UPDATE: Immediately after publishing, a more sensible Facebook friend posted a link to this Snopes.com article, debunking the legitimacy of this Facebook Privacy notice.  #toldyouso

Altimeter Kicks Butt Again: Facebook Page Marketing Tips

Great post out this week from Jeremiah Owyang and the Altimeter Group, all about Facebook Page Marketing. Facebook & Facebook users are continuing to evolve and become more sophisticated on the platform, which means that brands who are just getting started with Facebook pages, or are doing the same thing they’ve done for a year or two, need to start playing catch up, and quickly.

I couldn’t embed the report directly into my blog, but here’s a link to 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing: Jeremiah’s post (w/ embedded report)

Jeremiah and his team identified 8 criteria to determine success for marketing on Facebook.

  1. Set Community Expectations
  2. Provide Cohesive Branding
  3. Be Up to Date
  4. Live Authenticity
  5. Participate in Dialog
  6. Enable peer-to-peer interactions
  7. Foster Advocacy (give value & a reason to share)
  8. Solicit a Call to Action

When I see a list like this, I put my work front and center in my mind while reading through each item, as a way to grade myself. Thankfully, I feel like we’ve been successful at most of these steps, but certainly have room to improve going forward. Some are easier to cross off the list (setting up your expectations, providing consistent branding and updating the page regularly are low hanging fruit), while working your way down the list might require more effort, sweat & tears, and getting others on your team involved to do them well.

Which items on the list do you feel are most important for a brand to do well (even if its easier to do)? What do you find you struggle with the most (either yourself or inside your organization)?  For me, it’s 3 & 5 for the first — and 5 & 8 for the second.

Thanks again to Jeremiah, Alan & Christine from Altimeter who published the report and gave me something else to measure myself against.

Six Steps for Setting Up Social Media Strategy

I went through a “101” call a couple weeks back and it brought back the reminder of that, while some of us do this social media stuff 24/7, most marketers and small businesses are still just getting started figuring out what to do with their Facebook profile/group/page,  YouTube channel/video, Twitter thingy. A lot of people I talk to are hesitant to even set up social media profiles because they’re sure there won’t be much time to learn about how to use them effectively — much less actually see a return on their invested time.

I made a few notes while listening to these concerns and questions and afterwards followed up with the group with six steps to getting started with social media. I wanted to share it here too, to help you start building your toolbox.

Six-Step Process for Organizing Social Media Goals & Strategies

  1. Set your objectives for using social media. There are no “wrong” goals, as long as they tie into your other business objectives. Some objectives may include driving sales, raising awareness, creating online buzz, connecting with your friends/fans/customers or using the channels as additional outlets for marketing.
  2. Determine the resources you can dedicate to social media. If you have a team, great. One person, great. One half of one-half of a person’s time, sure. Just make sure that you’re allocating the appropriate amount of resources that are in-line with your overall business objectives.
  3. Decide what social channels help you achieve the objectives you’ve set and align with the resources you have available. You don’t have to have a presence on every social media website to be successful. PGA TOUR player Stewart Cink only uses Twitter, but he does so really well and is the most popular golfer on Twitter. Each channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) is unique in how the users engage, who uses it and even where its more popular. Pick the channel or channels that will reach the people you want to reach, fit with the resources and content you can produce and the outcomes you want to achieve.  [Hint: the Groundswell Social Technographics Profile Tool is a great resource to help you identify who & what your audience is doing online.]
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel just for your social media profiles. Use the content you’re already producing for your website & newsletters (can go into Facebook notes, videos, photo galleries, etc). Make your social channels another extension of your plans for marketing, communications & digital efforts.
  5. Use insights from Facebook (Page Insights) and YouTube (Insights), as well as third-party sites like www.tweetcounter.com and TwitAlyzer.com to track your growth and successes. Hootsuite.com and Bit.ly let you track clicks on links posted on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Measure everything and use the data to back up your gut instincts about what goes well or not as good as expected.
  6. Try new things! and share your successes or hardships so we can create a better community to help each other.

What do you think? I welcome any comments, challenges or additional tips that will help others get more comfortable with starting out, or resetting their goals for using social media to connect.

How much do you trust your Facebook friends?

I’m not a huge fan of the “Facebook is evil” posts that get tossed around when Facebook makes changes that rile everyone up (Beacon, News Feed, etc), but I just discovered one bit of info that I feel I should share. Facebook has a loophole where even if you opt out of sharing your information, your friends can share a lot of YOUR personal info via Facebook applications or other websites.

This feels like Facebook is telling me, “We see that you don’t want to share your personal info to friends & users outside your networks. BUT we still want to give it to our developers and partner, which pay us the big bucks. So, we’ll ask your friends to supply this information, under the guise of “making the experience more social“.

To change what your friends can share, click on Account in upper right hand corner. Select Privacy Settings. Click “Applications and Websites” and select “Edit Settings” button across from “What your friends can share about you”. (Or use this link). I unchecked all the boxes (see the default, below), but encourage you to do what seems appropriate for you.

People who are unhappy with Facebook’s track record of openness are starting a “Quit Facebook Day” on May 31st. I’m not advocating for a mass exodus, but am also starting to wonder about how the benefits of using Facebook are changing. In the past couple months, Facebook has loopholed around my personal privacy preferences, un-personalized my own Likes & Interests (which really ticked me off), and become even less transparent while advocating openness from their users. I’m considering what to do with my personal Facebook profile, though I’ll never leave the site completely because of my job. As long as I’m on Facebook, I’ll be dedicating as much time within “Privacy Settings” as I do checking out my friends’ photo galleries from weddings!

Tweet the Rainbow


Would you make Twitter your homepage? 

How about using Flickr photos tagged with your brand name as official company images or take what someone has written about your company history and products and use it as official brand language. 

Sounds a little crazy, right? Or it might be intriguing, but you know that suggesting it at your next marketing meeting may get you tossed out the window like the Bud Light guy in that Superbowl commercial. 

The folks at Skittles (parent company MARS) are only throwing one thing out the window — and that’s the traditional approach to brand websites. Log onto www.skittles.com and 2 bright red widget boxes pop up on your screen. One is a verification and disclaimer (T&C) clause that you have to accept. This is interesting. They’re attaching their online brand to user-generated content, yet MARS Inc. is not responsible for what you might see. 

Just a heads up: Any stuff beyond the Skittles.com page is actually another site and not in our control. This panel may be hovering over the page, but SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for what other people post and say on these sites. Click the box below to acknowledge that you know SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for that stuff.

After you accept, that leaves one box cemented on your browser window, with six tabs at the top. The new homepage for Skittles.com is the Twitter search stream for thh keyword “Skittles”. Clicking on any Products link pops you to the Wikipedia page. Same for Pics (Flickr stream), Videos (YouTube channel — only 3 videos, but that’s another topic), and Friends (Facebook Fan Page). Chatter takes you back to Twitter search [is this a sign that the “Home” tab may be changing?] and Contact gives you a feedback box on the only page that looks corporately owned. 


A few questions I had after my first glances at the site: 

  • How much monitoring is going to take place on all these channels? It didn’t take long for slurs and negative statements  to show up on Twitter search (aka homepage), and we all know that anyone can edit a Wiki, post pictures to Flickr or become a fan on Facebook and post/tag rogue content. 
  • Why would someone leave a feedback email when they can post to a homepage instantly in 140 characters? I would assume the same person that gets those emails is also reading the Tweets. 
  • How will Skittles recieve, measure and respond to the Tweets, good and bad that are being posted? #Skittles has been a trending topic all morning, and the site just went up. 
  • Also, if a brand is going to base its homepage presence on Twitter, shouldn’t it own its own Twitter handle? As of 10AM (ET), @Skittles had 1 follower (and a profile pic of a LOL Cat), @SkittlesCandy was being squatted on by a concerned fan, @SkittlesUSA and @MARSInc weren’t in use yet. 
  • What do we call the new Skittles online presence? It’s not a true website. Portal, widget, application, channel, presence are all more appropriate descriptions of their new initiative. 
  • Will the new efforts make an impact on sales? @PRSarahEvans posed this question to Twitter in a TwitPoll . Early results showed 63% of responders say Skittles makeover does not make them more likely to buy Skittles. 

The “who owns your brand” discussion is a popular one within social media circles, and I expect the Skittles initiative to spark another round of it. But I’m mostly curious to see if Skittles.com will change or be modified before the buzz dies down. 

One last thought – I’m not against the new Skittles web campaign. I think its a fresh approach that maybe didn’t consider all the corners (or they did, but don’t care). Skittles and MARS have taken the “everyone owns a pice of your brandmantra and acted literally. They’re telling consumers “what you say and do about us is better than what we can tell you”…although this also has the feeling of “we’re saving thousands in web development dollars”. Skittles deserves Kudos for their unique approach, but I don’t expect to see it copied soon.

Know what your audience wants

From the “best thing I read today” files (courtesy of Clickz):

Widgets on a social network are different from those on a personal platform. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The most successful applications on Facebook harness the social network. This includes music and video applications that allow users to see what others are interested in. Less successful are applications that are of value only to the profile holder. This is different from widgets on personal platforms, which center on the individual user’s needs. Both can benefit from adding true e-commerce, however. (For the rest of the “Widget World” article, click here)

The main thing I took from this paragraph? You have to know what your audience (users) want and be willing to give it to them. A headlines widget might be just the right thing for a personal blog or homepage. On a Facebook page, though, the app would be better suited to show what articles the users’ friends (using the same app) are reading, sharing and commenting on.

If you don’t know what your users want, ASK THEM. Go to the message boards, blogs and sites they are and become part of the conversation. Offer to have coffee, buy them a sandwich or arrange a meetup for happy hour.  L-I-S-T-E-N

In the spirit of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, that’s all.

Are We Engaging Gen Y or Stalking Them Blindly?

The first actual conference session I went to Thursday was titled “Using Social Media to Engage Digital Natives”. Now, the idea of engaging young adults with technology that speaks to them is something I think about every day. Still, I was interested to hear about how other companies were using new media tools to reach out to other audiences.

A quick review of some vocab that we used in this, and other, conversations:
Digital native: person who grew up with technology and have very low adaptation curve to new media tools.
Digital Immigrants: Those who grew up with pen & paper and have to adapt to a digital world
Social Network: Peer-to-peer networking sites
Blog: Reverse diary for both personal and commercial use

By the end of the hour-long seminar, I was a little disheartened about what I think other (older) people took away from it:

Today’s seminar is all about (unofficially) “You, too, can stalk and find Gen Y on Facebook and start marketing to them, and it’ll probably work.” Totally hurting my newfound efforts to dispel that notion to marketers that Gen Y is only on Facebook.

Where’s the research that says that less than half of FB’s 65 million active users are actually college students? I know it’s there, because I just found it and put it into our own presentation. How about: only 15% of social media initiatives set forward are deemed successful? Hello WalMart, Pepsi, McCareers and Second Life.

Sure, the case studies that were presented were pretty effective and what most people would consider “successful”, but what about the “Best of Everything” YouTube video that has only gained 2,000 hits in three months – in a city with 1.7 million people?? Successful? Effective?

The social media discussions this week are terrific, and yes, I realize that is the point of the entire conference, but I think it’s important to also stress this is a part of the whole, not the “AHA” perfect solution.

I’m glad that our speaker did add, later, that their social media outreach to college students via Facebook was only part of their larger PR plan that still integrated traditional outreach methods, including pounding the pavement, sending out releases, etc. Web 2.0 is not THE answer, it is a part of an integrated approach to marketing, PR and communications.

Like David Pogue said at the keynote this morning (hilarious, btw), the new technologies are not replacing the old – rather the mainstream channels are splintering into more and more pieces. There’s just more ways for communicators to spread the messages, more channels to pay attention to, more to contribute (but we’re still getting paid the same, unless you’re a Hollywood writer).

I want to hear some success stories about using social media as a part of a larger PR initiative. Do you have one? Leave it, or other thoughts, below.