The British are a lot like Americans, or vice versa I guess, in our shared tendency to become so concerned about sensational threats that we formulate useless safeguards just to say we did something. The threat posed to children by online sex predators is an alarming issue on both sides of the Atlantic, providing news media with plenty of lurid fodder. This has prompted Facebook to offer a new "panic button" to UK users, which I can imagine showing up in the U.S. at some point. The only problem, as noted, is that it completely misses the point.
With all the controversy over questionable marketing ploys and privacy policies, you might get the impression that Facebook is some kind of evil totalitarian conspiracy. But in the big picture, sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are actually a force for good, serving as organizational tools and information channels for dissidents resisting real totalitarian conspiracies. Now a Chinese government think tank has supplied more confirmation of the threat posed by social networking sites to authoritarian regimes.
Men 18-34 are twice as likely as their female counterparts to break up through Facebook (24% men vs. 9% women) as well as via text message (31% men vs. 14% women) -Oxygen Media Insights study, July 2010. What follows is a dramatization.
Although Facebook's growth appears to be slowing in the United States (the site added a mere 320,800 new users in June, down from 7.8 million new users in May), the U.S. is only half the story. Or actually, significantly less than half the story. Indeed, one of the most interesting things about the site's explosive growth over the last few years has been how much of this expansion took place outside the U.S. This is in marked contrast to its predecessor and rival MySpace.
There's no two ways about it: Parents are not cool. Nothing against your parents or against you if you are a parent yourself; but there is no question that in the big Venn diagram of life, "parents" and "cool" exist in two totally separate, mutually exclusive circles. No parents are cool, and nothing which is cool is parental. The same rule holds for locations both real and virtual: if your parents are somewhere, that place cannot be cool.
I recently had a chance to talk to Chris Winfield, CEO of Blueglass -- a new integrated marketing company combining social, search, and other online capabilities -- about current and emerging trends in social media. Our conversation touched on an issue that has been on my mind, and in the news, more and more over the last year: how advertisers can limit their dependence on social networks and other third-party social media players by fostering more direct relationships with their target audiences.
The Internet is good, according to a survey of 895 "technology stakeholders," pundits, and other experts by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, inquiring about the effects of email, social networks, and other social media. Specifically, a large majority of respondents (85%) agreed that, "In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the Internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future." But what about ...
Reporters tend to be obsessed with novelty -- what's new, hot, fresh, innovative, surprising, catastrophic, etc. This preoccupation is understandable: I mean, our business is called "news." But there's equal importance in things that don't change -- equilibrium instead of trend, static versus dynamic, solid out of ephemeral. On that note, I recently found myself thinking about World of Warcraft, the pioneering massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMPORG for short. It turns out WoW has more or less plateaued ... as one of the biggest businesses on the Web.
I missed this yesterday, probably because Microsoft wanted me to: less than two months after launch -- and only after a very expensive, high-profile advertising campaign -- they're pulling the plug on Kin, which they'd touted as the first "social media phone." The demise of Kin (insert "next of Kin" joke here) contains a couple of lessons, but to my mind the most important one is this: social media is not something people are willing to pay for. It has to be free... and therefore ad-supported.