The number of people accessing social media through mobile devices is booming, according to comScore, which just released a report titled "The State of the U.S. Mobile Advertising Industry and What Lies Ahead." The report includes a comparison of the top 10 categories of mobile activity in March 2010 and March 2011, and the biggest year-over-year increase -- both in terms of actual users and percentage growth -- was in mobile social networking.
The social media world is dealing with return-on-investment like the shambling, many-headed hydra that it is -- meaning, slowly and in piecemeal fashion. After several years of deafening silence, 2011 has seen some promising starts, with tentative attempts to demonstrate and quantify connections between social media exposure, brand perception, and sales lift.
While it has always been an experiment in controlled chaos, sometimes the Internet seems like it is really spinning out of control. Last week was one such occasion, as social media dominated the headlines in a variety of unexpected (and often unpleasant) ways. Taken together, these stories paint a portrait of the way social media is transforming everyday life, for good or ill.
One of the remarkable things about social media is its flexibility, which allows people to use it for pretty much any purpose you can imagine, running the gamut from personal to political to professional and everywhere in between. For example, IndustryWeek reports that one of the nation's largest unions is using Facebook to organize a campaign against free trade agreements which it says threaten American jobs. The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, with total of about 700,000 members, is drumming up opposition to planned trade deals with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama with an ad campaign claiming that …
Like Groundhog Day and taxes, it's becoming an annual (if not semi-annual) ritual: Facebook quietly introduces a new product or service with sweeping implications for customer privacy; people finally notice; controversy ensues; everyone forgets it ever happened.
China's government is terrified of social media because of its potential as a tool for spreading and organizing dissent -- and it turns out this fear is quite justified, as the Communist party faces its biggest external political challenge in twenty years, thanks in part to social media.
Having harped on the whole social media bubble thing in the past, including the LinkedIn IPO, I now find myself playing devil's advocate in response to an interesting study by academic mathematicians purporting to "prove" that LinkedIn's IPO is a bubble. Basically, I am merely going to point out that -- even if it looks, smells, sounds, and acts like a bubble -- there is really no way to actually know if it is a bubble until it pops.
Everyone is real excited about this social media thing, but at a certain point I think we all need to take a step back, take a couple deep breaths, and just try to calm down a little before someone gets hurt. For example: it's great that we can access social media via mobile devices, but when do mobile log-ins cross the line from convenient to crazy (and possibly criminal)?
The epic battle between drug cartels and the Mexican government has assumed the proportions of a civil war, leaving more than 40,000 dead in the last five years. And like many other armed conflicts, journalism is one of the casualties, as reporters have been cowed into submission by the very real threat of reprisals by drug gangs for unfavorable reporting, which have left 66 journalists dead since 2006. But there is still one source of information available to regular Mexicans, provided they have an Internet connection: social media, which offers the key advantage of anonymity.
New York State's Representatives seem unable to stop sending nudie pics of themselves to women they've never met on the Internet. Back in February I wrote about
the antics of Rep. Christopher Lee, the Republican Representative from the 26th District in upstate New York, who went looking for love online with such stupidity that he deserved his own column. Now, in the interests of bipartisan fairness I must heap scorn and mockery on Anthony Weiner, the Democratic Representative from New York's 9th District, who accidentally broadcast a photo of his "junk" to the entire world through Twitter.