Tag Archives: Web 2.0

Thoughts on The Social Network

Last Thursday, my Social Media for PR class viewed The Social Network. Before I share my thoughts on the movie, I would like to point out that prior to the class screening, I have never seen the movie, nor do I know much about Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook’s history. Though I do know general information.

What stood out to me right off the bat was how Zuckerberg was portrayed as a completely arrogant and socially inept prodigy programmer. Despite hearing from others that the real Zuckerberg can be a little condescending and—to sugar coat it—a jerk, it’s hard to believe the CEO of Facebook can be that cruel and condescending to virtually everyone he comes into contact with. Clearly for Hollywood purposes, his social awkwardness and mannerisms are an exaggeration. Though what I can believe is that he is a gifted programmer and innovator with a true understanding of communication and connections. No one can create a “social” networking site without understanding how and why people communicate and for what possible end goal. This leads me to my next thought.

Though Zuckerberg was portrayed as overly arrogant (although I don’t doubt some of his arrogance), what the movie stressed through this arrogance was his steadfast belief of Facebook’s mission as stated in Wired magazine in 2010: making the world open. In the movie, everyone involved with Facebook was concerned about the profits except for Zuckerberg. The Winklevoss twins and Narendra were angry not just with Zuckerberg stealing their Harvard Connection idea, but the potential for the idea to make millions. In addition, Eduardo Saverin as CFO immediately wanted to include advertisements to make money after Facebook was launched. Then there were others in the movie that saw no potential in a social network at all, which is remarkable to think about considering the way Facebook has changed advertising, marketing, and public relations. However, that is a whole other matter.

In the lawsuit that ensues in the movie with all three parties (Zuckerberg, the Winklevoss and Narendra, and Saverin), Zuckerberg states in front of his accusers and lawyers that he doesn’t care about the money, but for Facebook to connect people in ways still unimaginable. He insults everyone in the room, stating they are too foolish to see the bigger picture. This emphasis on the mission rings true for the real Zuckerberg. Even with Facebook going public in the past year and decreasing in stock value, Zuckerberg firmly states Facebook does not exist to please investors, but to achieve its mission. From what I remember, the speech was very blunt. Regardless of how arrogant he may be in real life, I like that he’s truthful (to an extent) and dedicated to the idea. That, I believe, is what the movie did well. At the same time, I think that was also the take-home message: How a simple site like Facebook catapulted us into the modern era of Web 2.0.

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Listening Strategies

This week’s reading of the Groundswell focuses on how companies can utilize the groundswell for research. More specifically, it’s about listening to what consumers have to say and how that can impact the company both negatively and positively. The book offers two different strategies for listening: setting up a private community and brand monitoring.

Of the two, I feel the setup of private communities is the most useful. The book makes a great point that traditional marketing research tools, such as surveys and focus groups, don’t give any insight. They may be good for mapping trends and answering questions, but these tools do not tell companies anything about what consumers really think and how they feel about a particular product or company. For instance, surveys may tell a company how much of something consumers are buying, but not why they are buying it. It does not reveal underlying factors, which may sway consumers to choose one product over another.

By setting up a private community, a forum within your own company, it brings together people with a common interest or concern. A company member may initiate the forum, but the consumers are the ones that will talk amongst each other. How they talk and what they talk about will depend on the company/product, but in the end, it becomes a more natural focus group. Today, with many people using the Internet for information, it makes sense that they may stumble onto a forum and perhaps even participate. Whether they are spectators or critics, there will be chatter, which will then produce unforeseen revelations a company can work with.

And while a company has to seek out participants in a traditional focus group, I find there is a higher chance that those who join private communities come of their own volition and willfully participate. To me the private community, if executed successfully, holds a lot of potential for companies to benefit from, save money, be efficient, and connect to their publics.

The idea of brand monitoring is also a good tactic, but I don’t think it gives as much insight as private communities. I see brand monitoring as just an extension of survey and focus group techniques with the addition of analyzing emotional sentiment. It’s only great for seeing trends, picking up any PR crises and minimizing the effects, and understanding how a buzz about a product is shifting. Brand monitoring is a good start, but it can’t offer anything under the surface.

Regardless of which strategy is more useful and which one companies will use, listening in general makes way for both finding out the root of a problem and stimulating inspiration for marketing changes. That is a fact that cannot be ignored.

I now leave you with my final thought on this chapter. When all is said and done of listening and marketing, where does the public relations officer fall into this groundswell method? How do you decipher between the public relations officer (who wants to maintain mutually beneficial relations between client and their publics) and the marketing researcher (who wants to generate sales)? I hope to have this question answered over the course of the semester.

Tapping into Web 2.0

As discussed in the previous post, there are many social media outlets that the average individual can choose from. However, what about companies? How can they begin to utilize social media to bring forth consumers and be part of Web 2.0? According to the Groundswell, two ways: the Social Technographics Profile and POST (People, Objective, Strategy, and Technology).

Taking together the Social Technographic Profile and POST, I thought I’d apply it to two types of writers I follow on Twitter and see whether they promote their works effectively. The first is a novelist and the second, a comic writer. Lets assume that both are virtually unknown. That is, they’re not popular as say Stephen King.

The Novelist:

I did not follow the novelist on Twitter, but rather she followed me, probably based on computerized mumbo-jumbo that took into account my profile stating I’m a “Literature enthusiast” and the fact that I follow writers. Out of curiosity, I followed her back to see what she had to offer. Suffice to say, I was not impressed. All she does is autotweet the same generic advertisement of her novels. The purpose of her twitter is to sell her novel, which is fine, but she does not apply POST. The first three steps are very important here. How she targeted me was purely random, not taking into consideration what genre of books I may be into, but that I liked books overall. She doesn’t realize that I may also be a blogger who likes to write reviews. Her objective may be to sell books, but her strategy is nonexistent. She doesn’t try to establish a relationship with followers like me in any way. And it’s obvious she doesn’t read our tweets from time to time to figure us out and how she can cater her twitter to us. There’s no communication at all. Her tweets don’t acknowledge her thousands of followers and in turn, followers don’t read her tweets. She seems to only utilize O and T, which is ineffective. Of course, this is all speculation and I’m sure some of her followers may pick up her novels. But me? I ignore her tweets. In fact, I don’t know why I continue to follow her. Time to unfollow, perhaps.

The Comic Writer:

Unlike the novelist, I chose to follow this writer first, but for a specific reason. For anyone curious, he doesn’t write for DC Comics or Marvel, which comes with them stature and decent living, but a smaller company called Image. The only reason I knew of him was because I read a short article about his new comic book about Peter Pan in WWII. Being a Peter Pan fan, I blogged about the series and my anticipation. I then tweeted the title and link of my blog post. Days later, this same writer retweeted me and tweeted me directly, thanking me for blogging about his comic and hoping that I enjoyed it when it came out. I was impressed. He was actually searching tags about his comic and making an effort to promote it. I followed him after this incident to see what he had to offer.

This writer definitely applies POST and considers his audience. He doesn’t follow thousands of random people. He follows fellow comic writers, artists, reviewers, bloggers, and the like who can help him. The people are the fellow writers and reviewers I mentioned, but the people also consist of his fans. His objective is to market himself by talking and listening to both groups. His tweets don’t simply say, “Buy my comic!” He tweets sneak previews, sends us to his blog that go in depth about the process, engages his fans by making them excited, pitches other writers, gives advice to aspiring writers, and better yet, he talks directly to his fans. His strategy is therefore to energize writers and fans alike, and get feedback. By applying POST, Twitter (and blog posts) works for him. I’m now a huge fan and promoter of his works.

Granted these writers are different, being from different genres, but how they use their Twitter to market their work was important to me.