• Stupid PR Tricks: The Facebook-Google Edition
    Oh, such hilarity. Where to start? The total lack of common sense? The failure to think strategically? The hypocrisy? Facebook's PR debacle of last week -- when it was revealed it hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to plant negative stories about Google in the press -- was ridiculous, incompetent, malicious, and all-too-plausible. Despite their careful attempts to cultivate laid-back images, both companies have a fiercely competitive streak and rightly view managing public opinion as key to their long-term success. So why wouldn't they talk trash about each other, including furtive campaigns to seed negative publicity in the press?
  • How the Metric Was Done (or Will Be)
    I'm obsessed with Westerns, and it occurred to me that the progress of social media resembles the settling of the Old West: small pioneer groups blaze trails across the new landscape, sparking the interest of larger groups who arrive later. As the population increases, businesses spring up to serve the growing numbers of settlers and take advantage of new resources. Eventually, the initial lawlessness gives way to increasing demands for law and order, pushed by legitimate businesses and ordinary citizens afraid that outlaws will jeopardize their newfound prosperity (in part by deterring continued immigration). While competition was taken for granted, …
  • Microsoft Buys Skype, but Ads Have No Role (Yet)
    Skype shares many of the basic defining elements of social media: namely, it is an online platform that allows people to communicate in a new way that costs less than previous communication channels. It is also a useful illustration of the business dynamics behind social media, especially following Microsoft's acquisition of the video and voice chat service for $8.5 billion, announced on Tuesday.
  • Facebook is Bad for Education; Also, Good
    In yesterday's post I mentioned a survey from the U.K. suggesting that many parents see social networks having a negative impact on their children's education, as the distractions of online socializing inevitably prove more engaging than homework. But there are two sides to every story, and I maintain there are plenty of ways social networks can be learning aids rather than hindrances.
  • Number of Tweens Using Social Media Doubled 2009-2010
    While parents have been leery of the safety risks posed by social media, they also face the age-old argument posed by children in the face of an allegedly unjust prohibition: "if you can do it, why can't we?" Lacking a convincing rationale, many parents are throwing in the towel and letting pre-teens use social media -- and in fact are often helping them, in a strategic move that allows them exert some kind of oversight and supervision.
  • Australian Military Cracks Down on Social Media
    While the U.S. military has embraced social media, albeit hesitantly, it's fair to say that social media -- an undisciplined, egalitarian free-for-all -- is a bit unnerving to the military mindset, with its respect for order, authority, and accountability. As a result some other professional militaries are thinking twice about whether to let service members use social media, and under what circumstances.
  • Americans Heard bin Laden News via Social Media... and Broadcast News, and WOM, and...
    Any time there's a big news event nowadays, it seems like we media types go looking for evidence of shifts in the way people get their news, for example away from TV and radio to social media. The death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 was certainly one such occasion: it seems like there were almost as many surveys asking how people heard the news as there were articles about the news itself (I contributed one earlier this week). But too often we try to impose a simplistic, zero-sum perspective -- that is, that gains on one side …
  • HP Cloud Plan Leaked on LinkedIn
    Everyone (or almost everyone) loves social media but there are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of, especially in areas where it overlaps with the professional world: employers vet potential employees through their social media profiles, while big companies worry about security breaches enabled through casual social network activity. Hewlett Packard is learning about the latter this week, following what appears to be an inadvertent leak of its closely-guarded plans for a cloud computing service via LinkedIn.
  • Social Media Ad Revenues Will Reach $8.3 Billion by 2015
    Social media ad spending will increase at a cumulative annualized rate of 31.6% per year from 2010-2015, according to a new forecast from BIA/Kelsey, which sees social media ad revenues jumping from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion in 2015. Four years from now, BIA/Kelsey expects that social media will contribute 21.9% of all digital advertising revenues -- up from practically nothing just two or three years ago.
  • How Did You Hear?
    Not since the suicide of Adolf Hitler on April 30, 1945 have so many people been so happy over the death of a single man. The killing of Osama bin Laden -- almost ten years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 -- is one of those events for which people will long remember where and when they heard the news. I heard the news from a Facebook update via a mobile device, or rather my friend's mobile device. We were immersed in a long movie -- the Godfather, fittingly, just after Michael Corleone exacts revenge against the man …
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