Archive for the ‘social networking’ Tag

Review: Sysomos

sysomosLast week I spoke with Steve Dodd and Nick Koudas of Sysomos, a social media tracking/monitoring service. They walked me through their product, features and showed me how it could be successfully implemented in a business or even by someone with a successful personal brand. Below is my review. Please note that this review is based on a presentation given to me by the Sysomos team, and I have not had an opportunity to actually try the Sysomos product or implement it firsthand.

Structure of this review: I’ve broken down the core elements of the product into categories and have reviewed them based on their merit. I’ve also included a brief review of additional features that are “added bonuses” or things you’d expect to see in a service like this towards the end of the review.

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Hiring trend: Social media– contractor?

With the economy in dire straits, it seems as though many companies are turning to hiring on social media strategists as consultants instead of full-time,  full-salary (and benefits) roles. Though this is a bitter-sweet turn of events for the social media field, it’s also a great opportunity for true pros to prove their worth, all while having the flexibility of bouncing from company to company.

Why this is good for social media: By continuing to offer positions (though they’re contract positions) it proves that companies are still willing to spend some of their limited budget on social efforts, and understand their value. By offering the position as a contract role, the company is able to save on their end by not having to pay for pesky things like benefits and contributing to your 401k.

Why this isn’t good for social media: By failing to completely integrate a team member into a brand or company, that team member (or in this case, social media strategist) isn’t given the opportunity to truly embrace the brand in a way a “full time” employee might. They’re also (potentially) seen as a much more expendable line-item in the company’s budget. Continue reading

The Emerging Role: Community Manager

I previously worked for a start-up called, Passenger, where I was as a Community Manager for brands like Nike, JcPenney, and ABC. While at Passenger  I posted to the company blog about the role of a Community Manager. Though the post remains mostly relevant, it does read much like an advertisement (ironic since at the time I clearly remember trying to ensure that it didn’t feel like an ad, but instead embraced the voice of the company, just as any Community Manager would do.) 

I’ve included my post below, and have amended it slightly to reflect my current views, noted in purple

Please note, that this was written while working for Passenger, not Yahoo!, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company at this time. 

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Obama: change online

Back in November I posted about the Obama campaign hiring a Community Manager to drive their online strategy post-presidential campaign. Since then, the Obama team has launched Change.gov, which the Washington Post describes as:

a transition Web site launched two days after Obama won, a constant stream of information is doled out. You can watch YouTube videos of transition staffers. You can track meetings between the transition team and outside groups, which provide searchable documents online (and allow visitors to leave comments for the team). You can post questions in the “Open for Questions” feature, where submitted questions are voted to the top by other users. In its first week, the feature got 978,868 votes on 10,302 questions from 20,468 people.

The site does a great job of tapping into the hype and political interest surrounding Obama, and makes it easy for users to get information. Americans can sign up for targeted email updates by entering their email address and zip code, can submit questions, search for information, and of course, share their own personal testimonial.

obamaquestionsHowever, the site runs into a potential problem when it comes to tone: unlike the Obama campaign itself, the Change.gov site remains incredibly formal in its tone. The Washington Post notes that one of the responses found on the site, written by Obama’s team is stiff: “President-elect Obama is a strong supporter of Federal funding for responsible stem cell research and he has pledged to reverse President Bush’s restrictions.”

The site also lacks the ability for users to connect directly to one another– a grassroots initiative that could prove to be incredibly lucrative for both the economy and for the Obama camp. Developing meaningful bonds through shared interests enables people to connect on a different level, and also provides a stronger, deeper connection with the connectee– in this case, the Obama camp.

All in all, I’m so pleased to see that Obama has taken his online popularity seriously, and is finding new and unique ways of embracing policy and politics. I only hope that as the year progresses we’ll see even more ways of communicating with the new President (his Twitter stream has been quiet since his victory) and new ways of shaping policy.

Alexander Hamilton once said “the masses are asses”– and for a long time, I agreed. But right now, I’m optimistic that with the right tools, we can all learn and create a brighter future and prove one of our founding father’s wrong.

Social networking and the hunt for a new job

With 533,000 jobs lost in November alone– the largest monthly decline since the 70s, it comes as no surprise that more and more articles are popping up about how to network, find a better career, or prove your value. 

The Wall Street Journal has begun following “eight out-of-work M.B.A.s as they search for jobs in a post-meltdown world,” in an effort to empathize with the downward marketplace, and to provide a positive resource for some of the many Americans who are professionally displaced. 

None of this comes as a big surprise: as the economy changes, the media reacts, so many of the articles have been somewhat lackluster. Most recommend brushing up on new technology so that those who were laid off remain desirable and competitive; others suggest reducing your financial overhead and planning for a layoff, even if you haven’t already been laid off. And nearly every article I’ve come across in the past few months has also recommended networking with your peers. 

For those of us in the social media space, this seems incredibly natural, and almost pointless to mention. Personally, as soon as Yahoo! announced the layoffs, I started checking out the marketplace– seeing what types of jobs were available, and made sure my resume was up to date. Then, when December 10th came around, I was ready to go. 

But a quote in an article in MSNBC caught me by surprise today that seems to somewhat discredit the validity of finding a job on social networking sites. Eve Tahmincioglu, the article’s author, interviewed  Michael Stefano, assistant professor of communications at University of Buffalo for insight on social networking sites and the job hunt. 

Stefano recently conducted an experiment where he had 50 college students select 12 of their Facebook friends and ask them to help with a school project by taking a 10-minute survey. Of the 600 total asked, only one out of seven responded on average, he says. The majority did not even click on the URL to look at the survey.

Helping someone find a job will take a lot more time and energy than that, Stefano points out. While he admits there are anecdotal stories about people finding jobs via these sites, he’s “doubtful” they are statistically significant.

The article goes on to say, “there are no hard numbers that show networking portals are any more effective than picking up a phone and asking friends if they know of any work. And these sites are not far-reaching, having long been focused on professional office dwellers, not blue-collar or service-sector workers.” Granted this may be true (I couldn’t find a relevant ComScore study or Nielsen study that would say otherwise, or even tested the idea in a scientific manner) but Stefano and Tahmincioglu are completely missing the point in these initial quotes: Facebook and LinkedIn are only as reliable of a resource as the people you “friend” or “connect with” on the sites.

Layoff tips

Tips from MSNBC

Stefano argues that he had 50 students ask their Facebook friends to complete a survey and the results were dismal. Perhaps the surveyor should look at their friends, instead of the resource and compare that information. Stefano’s data is completely irrelevant unless he had a control in the study: his students should have asked the same set of 50 friends to fill out the same exact survey through a different medium– either in person, phone, IM, or email, to truly test whether or not it’s the resource or the contact that’s unreliable. 

In addition to this, to continue on saying “finding a job will take a lot more time an energy than that”– well, that doesn’t take a genius to figure out. The likelihood of someone seeing your plea for employment, knowing of a perfect opportunity, referring you, and you being hired is probably slim to none. But, the potential for one of your contacts to see your plea for employment and think of you and refer you to a friend is greatly increased by the exposure that you wouldn’t have gotten had you not posted your new unemployed status on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Tahmincioglu provides an example of this later in the article, and also suggests users create a “Web presence” by creating a social networking page and differentiating yourself by using your middle initial if there are duplicates of your name online. What Tahmincioglu fails to warn novices is that if you’re attempting to look like you “get” Web 2.0– be sure you actually do.

Make sure your online presence accurately reflects who you are in person as well. There’s nothing worse than interviewing a candidate that you Googled prior to the interview and sitting there knowing that she has a photo of herself and Ron Jeremy as her default image on Facebook (trust me, I’ve interviewed many candidates who satisfy this criteria) but sit in the interview and present themselves as incredibly professional and non de-script in person. Online and realistic parity is the best way to find success– both on and offline. 

Whatever you decide to do– whether it’s create a social networking page to make yourself more googleable, or, update your LinkedIn page to keep your professional skills up to date, be sure to reach out to the people you know first. You’d be surprised by how many referrals/connections you’ll end up with, and you’ll have the added bonus of getting past the “black box” of mindless online resume submissions by actually knowing someone at the company. Either way, good luck, and happy hunting!  

Facebook: you got served?

Lawyers in Australia have recently started using Facebook to serve legal papers, says Reuters. In the article, an Australian attorney says:

“We couldn’t find the defendants personally after many attempts so we thought we would try and find them on Facebook,” lawyer Mark McCormack said.

“We did a public search based on the email address we had and the defendants Facebook page appeared.”

He said that was enough to convince the court, which found Facebook was a sufficient way of communicating legal papers when it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to personally deliver documents.

This may seem like a giant win for the legal system, but seems like a potential loss for many citizens as the question of authenticity and validity comes to mind. The article fails to outline the steps that the Australian legal team took to verify that the Facebook account actually did belong to the correct plaintiff, but with so many duplicate names and spoofed pages on the internet, it makes you wonder if this is truly fair to the party at fault. 

Celebrities have long been victims of online spoofing– recently, the New York Times featured an article about Shaquille O’Neal claiming his namesake on Twitter because an impostor was using his name to send messages to Shaq fans– pretending he was the real deal. Kanye West is yet another celeb to fall prey to fans wishing to fool other fans.

Kanye

But celebrities are the extreme– it becomes difficult for everyday users to discern who is actually a celeb online (making sites like Twitter and MySpace the perfect place for posers to make their mark), but when it comes down to legal matters, it’s very easy for the judicial system to distinguish who actually is a celebrity and who isn’t– both on and offline. 

This isn’t the case with everyday users. For most people, a quick visit to a site like How Many of Me  will prove the fact that you’re not the only one with your name. When you take that information, add in the ambiguity of the internet, and the ability to spoof simple information like email addresses, home addresses, and even photographs, online verification becomes nothing more than a false sense of security and identity.

Who is to say that the Melissa they serve papers to on a Facebook account is really the Melissa they intended on talking to? Currently there are over 435 different Melissa’s in the US that have my same first and last name, according to US Census data.

Personally, I have somewhere between 5-10 social networking profiles online– if each of the other Melissa’s follow suit, that’s anywhere between 2,175- 4,350 profiles to sift through, including all of the abandoned and neglected profiles that none of us visit. This sets up users for a nasty surprise upon login, especially if a user isn’t a regular visitor of that particular social networking site that the legal team targeted. 

In addition to this, posting a message on someone’s Facebook wall also seems to open up Pandora’s box for spammers and additional legal action. As it stands, there are already enough ways for people to retrieve a person’s identity– allowing for legal action on Facebook seems like yet another way for people to maliciously attack users. 

All in all, posting a message on someone’s wall on Facebook shouldn’t suffice as legal notice until it’s been verified that that in fact, is the correct person and Facebook and the Government come up with a stable way of doing so. Until then, it will be hard to take it seriously.