There’s no hiding the fact that people have recently come together for a common cause: to moan and gripe about Facebook’s new profile layout. What exactly are they saying?
Media outlets wasted no time in reporting on the resentment users felt toward Facebook and its new layout.
The Huffington Post reported yesterday that the New Facebook brought, among other new features, hatred. Fresno, California’s ABC30-Action News interviewed students at a local university, discussing the irritations users were experiencing with the new layout.
I asked a few of my followers yesterday what they each thought about the new layout and, while some repsonses differed, the majority was that the new layout was just confusing and seemed rather pointless to change something that didn’t need changing. I raised the question:
In developing a series of blogs on your reactions and changes in the world of social networking, how do you HONESTLY feel about the new Facebook layout? Don’t just say “I don’t (or do) like it” — tell me why!
In a matter of minutes, the reactions came in. There were comments I found on yesterday’s blog post that expressed the same resentment toward the new layout.
‘Someone else shouldn’t decide what’s important for me.’
With Facebook’s new “Top Stories” feature, it comes down to the sad reality that the social networking platform will decide what would be the most interesting for you to read. In reality, it seems not a lot of people like being told what is interesting and what is not. Who would?
Also, there is resistance coming from the fact that many users can’t see all of their friends at once. “I found that some things that I actually want to see from people don’t even show up unless I go looking for their profile,” said Nicole W.
‘I don’t like lists for Facebook’
One of the other newest features that Facebook introduced was the little “Ticker” at the upper right-hand corner of the home screen. “The right side panel shares what my friends are commenting on, liking, etc.” said Michelle L.
The biggest gripe about the Ticker is that, to many, it seemed a bit “stalker-ish.” You could see every little digital move that a friend was doing. Facebook’s reasoning? It would make it easier for one friend to connect with another, by seeing a real-time feed of what your connections (or, ‘friends’) were doing every second.
Why can’t we just have a “Dislike” button, like people have been wanting in the past? Seems like it would really come in handy now!
The biggest question, I pose to you: WHAT DO YOU THINK? Let me know!
If you’re a user of the ever-changing Facebook, then you’ve probably already noticed the new… wait for it… LAYOUT.
A few of my online friends wasted little to no time in sharing their views of the procrastination outlet. Some friends linked the change of layout to Google Plus’ recent accessibility to the public (that’s right, there’s no invitation required now):
One inquired about the profile layout’s effect on Facebook’s mobile app:
The award for “Best Reaction to Facebook’s Layout Change,” in my opinion, goes to the friends who are going to switch social networking platforms as a result of the change and it being too difficult to understand:
What does this profile layout change mean for YOU?
Let’s admit it, Facebook (for many, including myself) was starting to turn into a website where we would spend most of our time aimlessly scrolling through profiles, photo albums and a News Feed. It was the place we went to procrastinate when we had to write a term paper or get a LOT of work done at the office.
If you’re a long-time Facebook user like I am, granted I subscribed and have been loyal since the start of 2007, you may remember the BASIC layout and the original photo uploader with the ability to put “Bumper Stickers” and “Wall Graffiti” on friends’ walls. Remember that?
BUT Facebook has definitely done out with the old and in wit hthe new add-ons and features.
I usually attempt to remain unbiased in these blogs, but I have to say that the new Facebook layout seems like an all-too-easy way to… ahem… stalk your friends.
Here are some of the changes:
There are new and very extensive security measures that Facebook has now taken with the new layout. It has now become possible to completely block a person from seeing your extire existence online. The settings, however, aren’t as easy to use as they once were.
While before, you could go up to your Privacy Settings and go through each section of your profile and adjust who can see what, it’s not as easy to do anymore.
Idea: Facebook could make privacy settings more user-friendly.
A few months ago, Facebook launched a trial run of this new layout, in which it tested a feature called “The Ticker.” This real-time news feed appeared at the upper right portion of the profile, allowing users to see every Like, Comment and View that a friend made on anybody’s profile.
The part that really bothers me is the fact that it is extremely simple to know just about EVERYTHING that someone is doing in just a matter of seconds. While much of that information was rather easily accessible in the past (e.g., go to a friend’s profile and see his or her’s “action”), it has now become almost brainless to see what people are doing.
Idea: Stop being annoying and weird, Facebook–go back to your friendly and fun self!
Friend Categorization and Subscription
Have you added a new friend yet on Facebook? Are you SURE they’re you’re friend? Or just an acquaintance? Facebook now allows users the option to categorize a new friend as either… OR a list name of your choice. Along with becoming someone’s “friend,” you can also subscribe to friends.
In essence, you can remain friends with whomever you want and subscribe to posts only from those individuals you find “worthy enough” to follow.
Idea: Facebook, stop copying Google Plus–your subscriptions are just like Circles. If I wanted Circles of Friends, I’d go to Google Plus… or just get a REAL social life.
This isn’t a “new” feature, but it’s still available and is still a bit creepy. You can take your mobile phone and link it with Facebook… Correction, with somebody’s profile. Each time this person writes a new status, you’ll get a text notification saying something like “Carlos Perez says…. // To reply, simply type your response here…”
A bit ridiculous to keep up on people so closely, yes.
A bit MORE ridiculous to have someone’s information simply texted to your phone.
Ultimately, I see it as this: the amount of information you are willing to publish online is your choice, and it could potentially devastate anyone’s reputation. Once things are posted to Facebook (or Twitter, or Google Plus, or LinkedIn), any content become public domain forever. You’ll notice the three screenshots I took from friends’ profiles, I politely blocked out their photos and last names–I didn’t have to do that.
HOW DO YOU FEEL about the new layout?? Please share!
Before I graduated college, I held an internship with a business incubator at California State University, Fresno, as its public relations specialist. The Lyles Center taught me quite a bit about one’s stereotypical internship — trust me, an internship isn’t necessarily just all about stuffing envelopes and licking stamps.
Rather, an internship can be whatever it is you make it out to be.
Am I still working with the Lyles Center? No.
Did I find a job thanks to the Lyles Center? Yes.
There are a few things you should know/do, in order to increase your chances of finding employment after (or during) that internship:
If you remember nothing else, remember this — With persistence, you can make things happen.
If you work in a marketing or public relations department, chances are you’ve already heard those two letters that are [supposedly] the “newest venture” of advertising: Q.R.
Then you probably sat back in your chair and said to yourself: What does Q.R. stand for? Quick Research? Questionable Response? Qualitative Reading?
The actual definition is simply Quick Response. The full title? Quick Response Code (QR Code).
What is a QR Code?
If you haven’t heard of them by now, I’ll break them down in a few easy points:
How are QR Codes being used?
QR Codes are already being used on product packaging, magazine articles, advertisements on billboards and buses and even some shirts have the two-dimensional barcode printed on them.
Some young professionals are now placing QR Codes on a printed resume (or a business card), presenting that to a potential employer, leading said employer to the young professional’s online portfolio.
Now, you may even find some churches using QR Codes to link to a religious podcast or the church’s website to find additional information from the bulletin.
How can I generate a QR Code?
Initially, I was under the impression that I’d have to hire someone a couple hundred dollars to generate a QR Code for my LinkedIn profile (see image at the top of this post), but it turns out I didn’t have to spend a penny!
There are a few different QR Code generating websites to which you simply input your URL and a barcode will develop for you, in seconds:
Very easy, isn’t it?
Where have YOU seen QR Codes? Have you scanned any of them? What did you think? Were they useful?
Photo by Flickr user: LaMenta3.
Internal use of social media is something that businesses are slowly beginning to adopt. Some companies use social media outlets (e.g., Facebook accounts, personal blogs) to develop a strong internal voice for employees, wherein they are able to express their concerns or suggestions about their work. Other businesses have specific social media websites that allow employees to connect with one another, in hopes of forming a more comfortable work environment.
In researching this fairly new trend, I ran across three main examples of how businesses are internally utilizing social media.
For the avid social media user, blogs are nothing new. There are two primary types of blogs: the public-driven and the internal variety. The public blogs can offer consumers a more intimate view of a company’s product or the employees of the business. From a business perspective, the public blogs can provide targeted content to the public, in hopes to raise revenue or simply interest in the product it is promoting.
Kodak’s public blog is a prime example of this targeted content: the majority of the posts focus primarily on photography and not Kodak’s cameras. Since common sense tells us that photographs can only be obtained through the use of a camera, Kodak is then targeting an audience that would genuinely care about their product (the camera). From there, the audience is more likely to transition from “blog reader” to consumer.
The second type of corporate blog, the internal variety, is primarily used as a community hub where employees are able to meet, share their latest work-related news or troubleshoot any business challenges they are facing. This type of communication is essential in the field of public relations, as practitioners need to stay on top of the latest news and trends, to develop the most relevant campaigns.
In addition, this internal communication provides unity amongst employees who voice their concerns or opinions and are promptly attended to.
Some might argue this as an office version of Twitter. Companies must set up their own corporate account and only then, can employees use their work e-mail addresses to create their own internal account.
With Yammer, business can create profiles and employees can update their company on either progress on a current project or simply how lunch was. This internal social media outlet offers the opportunity to improve internal communication while simultaneously boosting team morale.
From a public relations perspective, Yammer also introduces many employees to the uses of other social media websites (like Twitter). The more familiar and comfortable the employees are with forms of microblogging, the more likely the company will be able to pick up Twitter accounts as both a customer service and product marketing channel.
This corporate social tool is similar to the public social tool, Digg. Pligg can be customized solely for corporate use, in which all social activity among employees will relate to a product or brand. Some companies are building Pligg into their existing intranets, in an attempt to develop social bookmarking with their staff.
From what I’ve discovered, Pligg can be used as a website to motivate an employee’s thinking of an idea through the use of a voting and ranking system that has made its counterpart (Digg) such a large success. A company’s ability to call upon the staff to offer unique thoughts or ideas and voice their experienced opinions in one website is helpful, to say the least.
Ultimately, companies are able to make the most out of internal use of social media by being able to harness collective thinking and collaborative efforts among employees, for a greater outcome.
One might call it an epidemic: high school and college students are no longer talking in person, as their primary means of communication is found online, on Facebook. Others see it as a godsend: businesses can now reach out to consumers in ways they would have never imagined, more than 20 years ago.
With Facebook having more than 500 million active users and Twitter claiming more than 106 million registered users, it seems almost mandatory that businesses focus their attention to the online community. Of the variety of outlets that businesses now have in the world of social media, I examined three main websites that businesses use primarily and tried to discover why they’re using these outlets.
Facebook has become the online tool for business to connect directly to communities and to consumers. Online forums still exist, but began to fade as Facebook’s popularity grew. Facebook’s 2006 decision to open itself up to third-party developers sparked this decision. If you’ll recall from an earlier post I created, “Facebook for Everyone,” I closely examined how public relations professionals could utilize Facebook to their advantage.
I’ve found that businesses tend to use Facebook in a means similar to that of public relations practitioners. There are two primary ways that businesses get engaged in this specific social networking website: groups, and business-to-consumer communication.
An excellent way to keep interested consumers informed about your business or organization is to develop a Facebook Group. Facebook groups are an in-depth means of communication for businesses to focus their attention on a specific subject (e.g., a seasonal sale or a new product launch).
People will join a business’ Facebook group because they want to stay informed about the business. Therefore, it is imperative that a business continually update their group with valuable information. Unlike spam e-mail or bothersome “junk mail,” Facebook Groups can be visited at a customer’s convenience–businesses must have the information available.
We live in a busy world, to say the least, and now most people don’t have the time to sit and read a full-length blog. Twitter offers its users a place to update the most valuable information of a company (or a person’s life) in a concise manner (140 characters or less).
The smart business is not using Twitter as an advertising channel, wherein they continually talk about their products or services. Most businesses use Twitter as a marketing channel to promote their own business profile and remain involved with their “followers.” Some companies utilize Twitter as a medium to promote special deals and because of Twitter’s broad reach, thousands of “followers” receive the information instantaneously on their computers or mobile devices.
One can argue that this once-popular social networking site began its downfall in 2006, with Facebook making itself openly available. MySpace.com, however, still offers itself as a good means of social marketing and some businesses still use it.
Marketing oneself on this social website, however, can be a bit tricky–many community members look down upon blatant commercials and advertisements. MySpace is sometimes seen, by some, as a place to simply advertise oneself rather than develop one’s personal brand. What I tend to find on MySpace is smaller brands or personalities developing profile pages that build an online following rather than marketing. Browsing through the profile pages on MySpace, it’s easy to find hundreds of music bands with MySpace pages.
One tactic that nonprofit organizations are using to build their brand, is having “fans” recommend their organization to friends online. Yet another tactic is to have employees build personal profile pages on MySpace and spread the message of the nonprofit through details shared on these personal pages.
As with all good marketing strategy, it’s beneficial to develop useful content for followers, friends and fans to read. Businesses need to adhere to what their customers want and create messages that will be most advantageous to those consumers.
Ultimately, this all begins with choosing which social networking site will be best for your business.
**For a map of a few Fresno businesses that maintain a social media presence, click here.
I’ve heard it argued that the Internet and technology is going to “kill” mainstream media. We live in a world where people don’t “talk” with one another, they “tweet.” Our society has accepted “Facebook messages” as a means of “contacting.” Technology, however, doesn’t “kill” the media–it evolves the media and the processes that go along with it.
The Internet has changed the rules of public relations. What was once traditional media contact, is now virtual. While some traditional methods still exist, there are more ways to communicate with the public through the use of technology and social media.
Press releases, for example, are now being delivered via social media and no longer offered solely by mail. How do we develop a proper social media press release? Let’s first look at why some of the old rules of press releases fail in social media:
1) The online world is full of millions of people. The traditional press release focuses solely on the company that is issuing the release. The appeal is narrow–only for the business.
2) The news releases issued are full of jargon that only professionals might understand. Your online audience isn’t going to always understand the terms you throw out in the middle of the release.
How do we develop a successful social media press release? Simple.
1) Consider your audience. You’re now delivering a message to millions of people–write the release in a way they will understand. You want to appeal directly to your audience.
2) Provide useful links. Using links in your press release will do a lot of good for both you and your audience. Firstly, place links in releases to allow readers to potentially land on other pages you’re delivering (e.g. your own personal blog). You have a greater chance of strength your search engine optimization by including more useful links in your release.
3) Choose your words wisely. Don’t use fancy language. Our society is busy and doesn’t have the time to read extra words. Keep your release clear and concise.
4) Make your release social. Embrace the social side of social media and promote conversations within your release. Include a link (See Tip #2) that leads readers directly to a forum that allows comments and feedback. Involving your readers can do wonders for your client or your business. This promotes a positive perception about who you are when you involve yourself with your audience.
Social media press releases are intimidating for some, but are a fundamental change that many businesses need to make if they wish to continue to compete in this field. By developing a strong online press release, you will realize how important these tools are to reaching your audience.
In a social world that is moving faster than we can imagine, it’s difficult to stay relevant for any person or company. In a recent video developed by Social Media Energy, it states that their research has found 83 percent of all businesses utilize Facebook. Over 700,000 businesses actively use Facebook pages.
For businesses to remain profitable, they need to maintain their relevance in their field. In my interview with Peter Lang, social media strategist and CEO of Peter Lang International, he compared relevancy to life in the ocean: “The most successful sharks in the ocean can follow their prey and keep up with it.”
There are many businesses that create things that are flawed due to their inability to keep up with the ever-changing trends and they simply don’t have the learning capacity, according to Lang.
Lang offered his top three reasons he believes WHY BUSINESSES FAIL to properly represent themselves online:
1. The business does not know that new social tools exist.
A lot of businesses, surprisingly, do not realize that there are many new team collaboration tools online for their benefit. OnePlace, however, is a website that offers organizational and productivity tools for personal and professional use.
Most businesses don’t utilize these proactive tools; they build themselves on retention. The company will retain old communication tactics because they feel they are not broken. While they might not be broken, they aren’t optimal in today’s society.
As the video itself showed, social media can deliver “great value” to any company, as 41 percent of business owners will testify.
2. The business refuses to adapt to change.
Think of the time you last heard from a business that they will “reply to your e-mail within five to seven business days.” Fairly recent, I’d assume? Think of the time you last saw a business reply to you within the hour on Twitter. Not too recent, I’d assume?
Take the example of Tony Bosco: after having a bad experience at Wow Bao, a restaurant in Chicago, Bosco tweeted about it. The owner of the restaurant read the tweet and responded immediately, offering Bosco promotions and special discounts to try the food again. Bosco complied because of the “immediate interaction” he received, he said.
As in the case of Wow Bao, it’s the simple ideas of listening, responding and problem solving that will really create an adaptive organization.
3. The business has interns represent its brand.
Imagine letting a high school freshman teach a graduate course at a university—this almost never happens. In today’s market, according to Lang, many businesses are hiring interns to develop the company’s social media pages. The interns are representing the company’s brand.
In many cases, the intern doesn’t know how to properly use social media to represent the company. Even if the intern is capable, he or she will still become a liability to the company–this new student has become the voice of a company to an entire online universe.
In this case, you’re putting your company at risk by allowing an inexperienced inter represent the company through social media.
As I learned from my discussion with Peter Lang: stay relevant, don’t be afraid to adapt to change. Develop your online presence wisely. Everybody is watching, listening and perceiving you.
Don’t forget: perception is reality.
“The public relations lens is starting to erode,” said Peter Lang, Social Media Strategist and CEO of Peter Lang International, “as we need to start looking at things from an overall business standpoint.”
Peter Lang describes himself as a “technology enthusiast.” Bringing international expertise on technology, Lang and his team at Peter Lang International assist in developing personal branding techniques and social media strategy.
I had the privilege of talking with Lang this past week. Over the phone, we discussed the fact that the public relations industry itself has not changed, but the number of those who involve themselves in the field has greatly increased. Lang also offered advice on how to truly benefit from the use of social media in the professional world.
Before we begin, I want to walk you through something that Lang had me do myself to realize how fairly recent social media jargon is. Do this: on a new tab in your browser, go to Google Trends. Once there, simply type in the words “social media” in the search bar and click the “search trends” button. Google Trends shows you how often a particular term is entered, in relation to the total amount of search for that word across various regions of the world.
As you’ll notice, social media is a fairly recent trend. With this rising trend, however, we find that public relations itself hasn’t changed. Rather, more people are participating through the use of blogs, online videos and a multitude of Internet content. Lang noted that “the volume of participation has increased so much that it’s becoming valuable and relevant. It’s nearly close to the entire nation’s population.”
Technological development influences our progression and our participation.
The more “user-friendly” something becomes, the more people will begin to use it. It sounds like a brainless philosophy, but it is growing more evident in the world of public relations.
Take the traditional news release, for example. In years past, according to Lang, the news release was something that was directed from the public relations agent to the media specifically. Now, news releases are available on the Internet and are being written directly to the consumer. They are no longer being sent from one company to another. They are now being written by one company and sent to the world.
There are now places such as Business Wire and PR Web where readers can sift through a multitude of online news releases. “Our means of distribution has drastically changed, with the evolution of social media,” Lang commented.
News releases can now be written and aimed directly at the public, no longer solely at the media conglomerate. We can now write material and distribute it to our audience and have them see what we want.
“For the first time, we can generate brands and we control the public perception of that brand,” according to Lang.
Relevancy is the key to keep you alive in the industry.
Nobody will take you seriously if you don’t stay relevant. Lang compared this idea to the ocean: “The most successful sharks in the ocean can follow their prey and keep up with it.”
It’s not an easy job. Staying relevant is difficult when the social media software itself changes about every nine months. Not many people have the learning capacity and because of that, “they do a lot of things flawed and they fail,” according to Lang.
Overall, Lang advised that if you have a curiosity for something, you will succeed. If you remain curious about your industry and curious about social media, you will find success. You have to be open to change and be willing to adapt.
“The public relations lens is starting to erode. You have to learn just beyond the PR lens,” Lang said. “Once you understand this and you’re not afraid to interact with your environment–you’ll go far.”
Recall, if you will, when Facebook made its website open to everyone–this place of social networking was no longer limited to those with an e-mail address ending in “.edu.”
Today, according to Facebook’s own “Press Room,” the statistics show that the site is now home to over 500 million users who “spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”
With that many users and that amount of use, it is a public relations professional’s dream and it is also be a great temptation.
The question is: if you’re able to reach out to so many people in one place, are you going to remain ethical throughout your stay?
I had the pleasure of reading a post out of the Journalistics blog from earlier this year about the use of Facebook for public relations. Here, it’s solidified that Facebook is a great means of developing media relations and getting one’s own personal or organizational brand out to the public.
Also, Facebook has helped public relations professionals in the building of “brand affinity.” Facebook becomes the bridge between the public and your brand, if used correctly. Facebook can also become the burning bridge between the public and your brand, if used improperly.
I’m reminded of the “Nestlé incident” that happened via Facebook in March. After an uproar by environmental activists against Nestle’s use of palm oil in their candy bars, social media sites (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) were plagued with negative attention against the brand. The company was successful in removing negative videos that were posted on YouTube but couldn’t really cease the “protestor fan base” that had accumulated on Facebook.
The ethical issue here is simply: should social media be used to bash a company and its product? I believe there a difference between stating your negative opinion on a social networking site and waging a full war against a company. There’s a line drawn with public relations professionals and be careful not to cross it.
There are many ways we can utilize Facebook for public relations. Here are a couple that I could think of for professionals to ethically use the social networking site.
Firstly, develop your “friend-to-friend” relationship (or, “business-to-consumer” communication). How you develop your personal (or corporate) profile on the Internet is how the public is going to perceive you. After all– perception is reality. For example, when I finalize a blog post, I usually will post a “status update” on my Facebook, letting my friends know what I’ve recently developed. Simultaneously, I will “tweet” my new blog post to my followers on Twitter. As a result, my friends and followers will see this information and (hopefully) become engaged.
Another way for public relations professionals to ethically engage in Facebook is to develop groups on the website. These groups allow solid discussion about a certain subject. In our case, it could be a new product’s launch). Not only can you lead the discussion for public relations via your “group,” but you can also learn a few things from other businesses and their use of groups.
Overall, the public receives almost too much information from the media. The public has many outlets by which they are reached. As a public relations professional, it’s best to reach them through a medium that you believe the public is more easily accessible. In today’s world that medium is Facebook.