Archive for March, 2010

Facebook Privacy Policy: Beware Changes In The Fine Print

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: Facebook | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

You’ve heard it’s important to read the fine print of a contract, right?

That’s where there’s a bunch of exceptions and other terms required in the interest of full disclosure, but you likely wouldn’t sign the contract if you read and understood them in full, hence the small print treatment.

It’s only when you have a problem you find out, whoops, there’s something in the fine print about that; and odds are, what it says is not in your favor.

More fine print to Facebook’s privacy policy

Recent revisions to the Facebook privacy policy, announced March 26, 2010, on the Facebook blog in the article Another Step In Open Site Governance, are of similar ilk.

The post’s title implies they’re being transparent. However, if the revised policy is written so that it’s difficult for users to determine the true implications, then it’s the digital equivalent of fine print.

A CYA tactic

The post begins by saying Facebook wants to publicize “all proposed changes to our governing documents before they go into effect and solicit feedback on these proposals from the people who use Facebook.”

FYI, they’re not doing this just to be nice. It’s to avoid another fiasco as happened with the site’s now-deceased Beacon system, which inspired angry member backlash, bad publicity and a lawsuit. In other words, it’s to protect their derrières.

The new policy is to share general data with “select” third parties

There are numerous proposed changes to the Facebook privacy policy, however, one that sticks out as, an “Uh oh, better take note of this” pertains to applications and third-party websites. It would appear Facebook, in language that is not exactly simple and/or direct, wants to share members’ general information — you and your friend’s names, connections, pictures, gender and any content where a privacy setting for sharing is “everyone” — with other websites.

Facebook says the change is being made “to offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site.”

So no worries, it’s for your own good.

The changes are automatic opt-in. Should you prefer to keep general info private, you must make the effort to opt-out.

Member discontent over policy change

Based on comments to the blog post, it looks like this new policy is going over like a lead balloon.

That’s not surprising and is another reason the site is telling everyone what’s going to happen. It’s a common tactic: Let people vent so they can feel like they’re heard, and make the change anyway.

If the true beneficiaries of this revised policy are Facebook and its advertisers — well, that’s just how it goes. Facebook is free. If we don’t like it we can just leave, right?

Are the words privacy and web mutually exclusive?

Perhaps this is just another turn along the inevitable path leading to the point where the words privacy and web are mutually exclusive.

Maybe so, but we’re not quite there yet.

And even if it doesn’t ultimately change the outcome, should you care to voice an opinion on the matter to Facebook, feel free to add to the 2,000+ comments already left on the blog post announcing these impending changes.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think? Are Facebook’s latest privacy changes really the equivalent of fine print? Comments welcome.

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What’s So Special About Twestival?

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Philadelphia Twestival logo

The 2010 Twestival is nearly here.

With this year’s Twestival, on March 25, cities around the world join in a collective effort to raise money on behalf of Concern Worldwide, an organization that works to improve life circumstances for impoverished people. Funds collected through Twestival will help support Concern Worldwide’s education projects.

The Twestival event in the city where I reside — Philadelphia — is being organized by Gloria Bell and Melissa Thiessen. They cooked up a scavenger hunt as part of the local festivities.

Gloria recently shared her thoughts on the festival as well as the role of social media as a fundraising tool. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Interview with Philadelphia Twestival co-organizer, Gloria Bell

What made you decide to have a scavenger hunt? Because it’s fun? Is that part of the point?

Gloria: The idea is to do something to get people who talk to one another online to meet face to face. Most Twestivals plan a party event of some kind. We thought about how much fun it would be to have everyone wander around Old City [a historic area of Philadelphia]. The idea came from PodCamp. They had one and everybody had such a great time, we thought, let’s do it again.

How will the scavenger hunt happen?

Gloria: Everyone will gather at National Mechanics [a bar/restaurant] and then break up into teams. They’ll be given clue sheets that have riddles, questions and locations where you have to go out and get the answer… For each clue, you have to tweet back the answer or TwitPix the photo to the Philadelphia Twestival account. The organizing team adds up the points and decides who is the winner, and they get their choice of prizes. Then we raffle off the other prizes…. We put a call out on Twitter and most of the prizes came from that.

You’re making Twitter an integral part of the actual event. How else does Twestival connect to Twitter and other social media?

Gloria: It’s all organized and promoted, not one hundred percent through Twitter, but primarily through Twitter. We have a Facebook page and we do email blasts, but the primary portion of the event — planning, organizing, rallying of volunteers, soliciting of sponsors and donations — is all done through Twitter.

It seems Twitter helps build the excitement and really turns it into an event. Why do you think that happens?

Gloria: I think it speaks to the power of social media in general. To be able to so quickly and so far, spread the word about something. To motivate people. To get them enthused. It gives us the power to reach people so much quicker than we otherwise would be able to.

I agree. I’ve given to causes I’ve seen on Twitter. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s the instant nature of it. I’ve given to people I don’t even know. Someone I’m a Twitter pal with says, “This is my friend and they need help.” Also, there’s a lot of fundraising going on for all kinds of things…  Why is Twitter such a magnet for people who want to do good things?

Gloria: Part of it is the nature of the medium itself. The people who are involved with Twitter are already into building relationships. Even though they may not be the direct relationships that most of us think of, it’s like, if someone’s your friend they’re my friend too.

That’s how we build our following on Twitter. We connect with people with whom we have common interests and then we connect with people they know. I think the same thing can be said for the power of charity. It’s the same connection.

This makes sense. Still, there’s a lot of things to give to. Yet if it’s on Twitter somehow it can be more powerful. Maybe it’s the reach?

Gloria: The reach is part of it. Can I reach almost 4,000 people in my normal day-to-day life? No. Can I reach 4,000 people instantly with a single [Twitter] message? Yes. I can. The immediacy of it is a huge draw. The fact that I can give to this cause, right now, in this limited attention span lifestyle we have.

Here’s a perfect example: I got a mailer from Planned Parenthood yesterday and it’s on my desk. It will be there when I get around to looking at it. I am going to send Planned Parenthood money. But it’s not the same as having instant gratification. And that’s what happens online. It’s that instant of “yes we know we’ve made a difference” feeling.

There’s still time for YOU to make a difference

Thanks Gloria, for sharing such thoughtful insights. You’ve been working hard to ensure the Philadelphia Twestival is a big success. Here’s hoping our city raises a nice pot of money.

And readers, there’s still time for you to get involved with this global movement for social good.  Head to the Twestival website to find out what’s happening in your area.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on Twestival and using social media for social good? Comments welcome.

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What is Twestival? And How You Can Join In The Fun.

Posted on March 18, 2010. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Twestival is a fun word.

Twestival events are fun, too.

The one in Philadelphia, Pa. has a scavenger hunt. Birmingham’s in the UK features a magician and dance party.

A good time will be had by all. And it’s all for a good cause.

A global event for giving

Twestival, which stands for Twitter Festival, is dedicated to using social media for social good. It’s motto: “Tweet. Meet. Give.”

Here’s how it works: Cities around the world host individual Twestivals to raise funds for charity, all on the same day. This year it’s March 25. Parties and raffles are favorite ways to shake the money tree, though organizers can do whatever they want.

Helping poor children gain a better education

Twestivals are 100% volunteer and all proceeds go to a single cause.

This year the cause is Concern Worldwide, a humanitarian organization that helps those who are living in extreme poverty achieve major improvement in their lives. It does good things in several areas of interest including health, education and finding ways to enable people to have reliable sources of food and income. Concern Worldwide works hard to help the very poorest of children gain a better education by building schools and training teachers, as well as providing meals, books and other learning tools.

There’s no time like the present to join a global movement

Twitter is the primary tool for publicizing Twestival. But you’ll also see notices about it on Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. The goal is to get people who converse online to meet one another offline to have a good time and raise some money.

I’m looking forward to the Philadelphia Twestival, which is being organized by Gloria Bell and Melissa Thiessen. I spoke with Gloria about Twestival — my next post will feature her thoughts on the upcoming event.

Meanwhile, there’s still time for you to make a difference. Sign up for Twestival.

To find out what’s happening in your area visit the Twestival site. It’s that easy to join a global movement.

C’mon, do it now.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think? Comments welcome.

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Is Your Web Content A Whole Lot Of Nothing?

Posted on March 13, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy | Tags: , , , , , , |

This week I toured a health center facility.

I’m part of a team hired to overhaul its website and we took the tour to glean information for our content strategy.

The woman who showed us around gave us good fodder for our project. We asked questions about all kinds of things and wondered what she thought of the website we’re planning to redo.

She offered a number of suggestions and said the site doesn’t have enough information.

A curious comment

Back in the office a colleague expressed surprise at that comment. The site has nearly 200 pages and is chock full of text. How can it be light on info?

I reckoned our guide meant the site doesn’t have enough useful information.

Clutter hides the good stuff

Our tour enabled us to realize this is a fabulous facility with numerous one-of-a-kind advantages.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the website. Someone who wants valuable insight into what this center provides, its benefits, or how it differs from other places offering similar services, would be hard-pressed to figure it all out.

Many of those details are in fact noted on the current site. That good stuff, however, is surrounded by extraneous text. It gets lost amid the clutter.

How too much can add up to nothing

Our team has more research and planning to do for this web project. We’ll have follow-up questions for our guide and will probe more deeply to determine what information she’d like to see on the site.

Meanwhile, there’s a simple lesson to be learned here.

Take a look at your website. How much of the content offers real value to users? How much is superfluous filler?

Tip: Too much needless information becomes a whole lot of nothing. Clear out the clutter.

– Deni Kasrel

So what do YOU think? Comments welcome.

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How To Benefit From The Hispanic Marketing Opportunity

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As a marketer, would you neglect a fast-growing consumer group with an estimated $1 trillion in buying power?

No way, you say?

You may be doing so without even realizing it.

In which case, you’re on par with about half the Fortune 1000 companies

Marketers miss out on the Hispanic community

Orci, a Los Angeles-based agency, recently conducted a survey of marketing and advertising executives at Fortune 1000 businesses. The survey indicates 51% of respondents do not specifically market to Hispanics or Latinos — the fastest growing ethnic population in the U.S.

Meanwhile, most of these same execs agree that Latinos will impact U.S. companies’ product and service offerings in the next five years, particularly in food tastes, fashion and technology.

Hmm… sure looks like an opening for savvy marketers to seize on.

Time to focus on the opportunity

Orci’s survey is timed to tie into the 2010 census, which is projected to show 50 million Hispanics live in the U.S.

CEO Hector Orci commented on his agency’s research in an article titled Latinos are a Driver of Business: Which Companies Will Take the Ride?, where he laments, “We feel like we’re in a time warp.”

Still, he reckons, “Rather than shake my head at the findings and talk about how I wished American businesses had changed over the last 20-30 years, I suggest we focus on the bigger story: the opportunity.”

Orci goes on to dispel certain notions about Hispanic habits: “What does it say to us when El Paso is the texting capital of the U.S.? Time to dispel myths about Latinos and the so-called digital divide. When Hispanics are the heaviest users of wireless through mobile phones and laptops, there is no divide.”

Guidelines to consider when marketing to Hispanics

Now maybe you’re a local business in an locale where few Latinos reside. Or perhaps you’re a niche business where this type of segmentation isn’t relevant.

Fair enough. Still, for many businesses there’s an untapped market here. And don’t forget social media — Orci claims nearly 80% of Latinos “engage in some kind of online socializing.”

Of course, you’ll want to do planning and strategizing. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Be aware one size does not fill all. Preferences for Latinos hailing from Mexico may differ from Latinos native to South America. You’ll want to determine who makes your market and create campaigns specific to those populations.
  • Hire an agency or consultant that understands and speaks the language of the specific target segment(s) you aim to reach. That way you stay aware of cultural nuances and can avoid creating campaigns that may be perceived as culturally offensive.
  • Meet your market via its preferred media. Target the publications, TV/radio stations, websites and social media favored by your Hispanic communities.

I’ll close with another quote from Hector Orci. It offers as good a reason as any to pay attention to this demographic: “At a time when American businesses are fighting to regain market share, the opportunity to effectively engage the Hispanic market as a growth strategy is just too compelling to ignore.”

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of the survey cited here? Does your business take advantage of the Hispanic market? Please share your thoughts.

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Interview with David Meerman Scott, Author Of The New Rules Of Marketing & PR

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Books, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The web makes it easy for companies to communicate directly with consumers. A good thing, so long as you know how to work that angle.

Yet for a while, there weren’t any best practices on how to do it.

Then along came David Meerman Scott — veteran marketer, popular blogger, and author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Overflowing with sage advice on how to leverage the web with new-style press releases, blogs, podcasts and other emerging media, the book became a bestseller.

New tools mean even more new rules

In the three years since that first edition social media exploded. Prompting Meerman to write a revised version, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition, covering even more tools, plus a fresh batch of case studies.

I thought it would be nice to have Meerman share some pearls of wisdom with readers of this blog. He was kind enough to agree and we enjoyed a lively phone chat. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Interview with David Meerman Scott: Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

It seems one of the things you’re getting at with The New Rules is you have to understand how people find things, and be aware of what they do online, period. Then you fit your marketing and PR into that. But if you don’t get how the web works, you’re lost. Is that accurate?

David: The technology is a solvable problem. But the aspect that you can’t get wrong or you won’t succeed, has to do with the way that we have traditionally talked up our company, which is to hype our products and services. In the 4 P’s of marketing — one of the fundamental tenets of marketing — the first “P” is product. But people don’t really care about products and services, what they care about are themselves.

What happens is, a company will say, “Oh, I’ve got to start a Twitter feed,” or a blog, or whatever. And the first thing they do is exactly what they’re doing already to market their company. They build a blog and the blog is about their products.

There are some products that you can do that for. If you’re Apple and you start a blog about the iPhone, that can work. But for 99.9% of the companies out there, talking about your products won’t work. What you need to do is understand your buyers really well. Understand what their problems are and then create something interesting on the web that will appeal to them and that will help them solve problems. That’s the part that most people get wrong. You have to understand your buyer’s persona.

You pay a fair amount of attention to search, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Yet that’s an area a lot of PR people resist, because SEO strategy may not follow AP style.

David: Right. There is a lot of truth in that. Fundamentally, every person on the planet who has an internet connection is using search. And the last number I heard is two billion people are connected to the web. So being visible in search engines is critically important.

But one of the things I like to point out is search engine marketing, at its core, is about creating the content that people want to find. And that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about. It’s understanding your buyers really well and creating content that allows them to solve problems in the words and phrases they would use.

That’s more important in my mind than worrying about the nuances of meta tags and where the text should be placed. Granted those are important, but in my experience a lot of search engine experts will focus way too much on those technology aspects of search and not that much on understanding that people are trying to reach amazing stuff that will then be indexed by search engines.

A lot of those highly search engine optimized pages that you see in the rankings at the top of the page; excuse my language, but they suck. They’re poorly written and the images are no good. Then conversely, you come across something and you go, “Wow, look at this. It’s exactly what I’m looking for.” In my mind, that’s what search engine marketing is. It’s creating amazing content that makes people go “Holy cow, that’s great.” That’s not really about the technology; it’s about the information.

Let’s talk about your suggestion to create an online media room — but for buyers rather than just the press. From my own experience this is a tough sell with many PR people. You can explain how when a release is on the web anyone can see it, and although they understand this as a concept, they can’t make the shift. So what is your most persuasive pitch for this one?

David: I think the biggest stumbling block is that many public relations people who I know mistake the superset of public relations with the subset of media relations.

In other words, public relations is really just about reaching your public and there’s tons of different ways to do that. Going through the media is not the only way.

But I think what a lot of public relations people want is for the world to be the way is way 20 years ago, They just want to be able to have lunch with reporters and send out press releases. It’s just a nice comfortable little world and the web is kinda screwing things up.

I think if our job is to reach our publics, it’s essential to understand there’s multiple ways to do so.

For example you hit on the online media room. When they first came out about 15 years ago it was basically an online version of a press kit… and well, guess what? It’s not just going to the media. Everyone can look at that stuff. So are you only interested in 200 journalists, or are you interested in 200,000 potential customers? And I think, without being rude, if you think your job is to only reach 200 journalists, then you shouldn’t have a role in the website. Let other people get on with the work of the media room.

I do think this job of media relations is still a critical job… that will be their specialty. But I hope people start to realize it’s not the only way.

You write about how the media itself has changed. When you consider bloggers, for instance. Yet you’re surprised when at speaking engagements and you ask PR and marketing pros if they write or read blogs, only a small percentage are doing so. You’d think at this stage more people would realize we’ve gotten past the point where it’s just the cranky blogger out there.

David: The other point that’s critical to know is that when a journalist is working on a story guess where they go? They go to Google, They go to your website. And if you have a blog, a journalist is more likely to read that then your press release.

I think it’s important to recognize the way journalists are doing their research is changing because of the web as well.

I can’t tell you, in my own case, how many times I’ve gotten amazing placement in a magazine, newspaper or radio, because somebody went to Google and typed in the phrase viral marketing. My content comes up on the first page. It’s number four or five, and I’ll get the call. Or they’ll type in online media room, and I’ll get the call. That’s not because I sent out a press release. It’s not because I hired an agency to pitch the media. It’s because the journalist went to Google and found me.

You believe people should experiment with marketing. Nowadays you can do that with video, because the costs are so much lower than in the past.

David: That’s part of it. The other part is a failure isn’t visible. If you do a TV commercial and it’s terrible, lots of people will see it. If you post a video on YouTube and its terrible few people will see it. No one will spread it. So it’s not, “Oh they failed, look at that” You know, you just quietly delete it.

You also suggest experimenting on a company website. I think there’s a hurdle there. People think they can’t put something up if they’re not sure if it will work.

David: They’re coming at that statement with the print mentality. It has to be perfect before it goes to print. Because if you print it and there’s a mistake, you have to throw the entire thing away and start over again. But the web is iterative. You can constantly tweak and change it.

–  Deni Kasrel

So what do YOU think of Meerman’s thoughts on the new world order of marketing and PR? Have you read his book, too? What’s your take on it? Please share. Comments welcome.

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