A Viral Moment in Time

January 1, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Other | Leave a comment

Happy New Year, and glad tidings to all of you!

2011 promises to be a great year; economy is slowly but surely getting back on track, holiday shopping is still on the high and people are placing a lot of hope in this year; if evidenced by the tweets and status updates coming at exactly 12 midnight. It is, pardon the shameless plug, a viral moment in time.

What does this mean you ask? It’s the time where seemingly every “right” person is on Facebook and Twitter, almost as if waiting to read your status update and tweet. It’s the time where what you post on your blog gets 100x more views than usual at that moment. It’s the time where YOUR network’s activity is on an all-time high that you are almost guaranteed online activity.

So when, if ever, does this happen? Of course, once in a year events (such as the heralding of the new year) has this built-in by definition. Everyone is posting updates and looking at other’s updates (looking at the timing of this post tells that story). Other viral moments might be brought about by you – your company launching a new product or your birthday coming up. Both personal users and business users are counting down for these times to happen when they can engage as many people as possible. That’s why businesses socially pitch the most during the holidays and your neighbor’s party invites get sent out at the eve of 4th of July. Different motivation, same reason.

But, I think that today’s social media landscape doesn’t allow the avid social media-list the privilege of simply waiting for these pre-marked times to happen and then publishing content. Today’s world has grown far too competitive even at a personal level – attention is fleeting and it’s naive to even hope your post about resolutions will go viral at new year’s eve.

Activity is high, yes. But one has to make that post at that time worth it. Of course, every post has to be worth reading, but this applies during these times more than ever. To make an analogy, you can’t just bring a bullhorn to a new year’s party; you have to bring and light up the entire fireworks display to make your point. People ARE there watching and waiting but they still have the luxury to choose which to link to click. Your job, whether to impress your friends or to sell a product, is to make sure you get that click and the biggest activity time with your audience.

Think of it in these terms: for your 2011 viral moments, resolve to:
1. Be different, yet relevant.
2. Be loud, yet clear.
3. Be thoughtful, yet simple.
4. Be sensational, yet true.

Once again, happy 2011 everyone!

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Want to be social? Learn to code. NOW.

December 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Other | Leave a comment

Social Coding

There is a pandemic in social.

No, not your countless hours spent on Facebook. That’s another pandemic.

This pandemic is about how companies perceive how to work in social media. They utterly believe that working with anything online requires knowledge of code language: HTML, C++, CSS/ Ruby, etc. Of course, social media being fundamentally online, this perception still applies even to the most basic social media marketing tactic.

And I 100% agree with this statement.

My only regret? That I didn’t know this sooner.
In my job search and working experience with social, this is quickly becoming my Achilles’ heel. The fact that my coding experience up to this point has been minimal at best is, for the lack of a better term, biting me in the butt from qualifying myself to a better position in working with social media.

It makes sense to learn it; Facebook Connect, Blog designing, webpage creation, special content and graphics creation, email newsletters – all of these require coding ability to some degree. It is the backbone of all status updates, blog posts, user interaction, etc, that we all know and love with social media. Companies will expect you to know it, your colleagues will expect you to help them with it. It’s not necessarily the main focus, but coding is a fundamental piece of the pie.

Thankfully, you can learn to code yourself (bless be the name of the inventor of the search engine)! Coding resources are abundant and have become amazingly streamlined that almost anyone with online experience can start coding effectively within days. It’s become easier to get into and a worthwhile skill to master.

Quick tips to get you started:

1. Google it. Most basic yet important advice of all. Even experienced coders run into problems that they can’t fix by themselves. Chances are, if you’re having problems with something, someone else has posted about it too. Also, Google is a GREAT place to start your learning.

2. Read, do, read, do. Coding is a language and like any language, takes practice. The only difference is that in coding, you type instead of speaking. For example, there are multiple guides out there to create your own website that outline it step by step. These are perfect to get you started in going from simple to complex, one step at a time.

3. Start with your ongoing social media projects. The trick to learning is by applying it to what you care about. Edit your blog design, Facebook campaigns, pages, etc by coding; it gives you versatile options and creates a uniquely-you look for your site.

So, if you’re even contemplating of working in social media, take coding up now. You will thank me later. 😉

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Top 3 Reasons to Like AND Hate the new Facebook Profile

December 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Facebook | Leave a comment

If it’s anything like the public hesitation to jump onto Twitter’s new design, I daresay that a good number of you out there are displaying the same hesitation to jump to Facebook’s new profile page.

Well, I decided one day to just say “what the hey” and take the plunge on the latter. After using it exhaustively (Proof? Three words: Birthday and Wall Posts 😉 ), I proudly present the Top 3 Reasons to Like AND Hate the new Facebook Profile Page!

1. One-Stop wall post list. By far, this is the -one- big problem they almost (more on this later) solved. It’s always a pain to have to go through the bajillion ways to finally get to a wall comment of a random friend. Now, it pops up to your wall page SMS-style for easy, one-click response.

2. Which photos are in your five? Taking a page out of T-Mobile’s “five” book, the new profile page now allows you to pick 5 photos to prominently display for your friends/visitors. This is particularly cool because it allows you to set a theme for the pictures to put your best foot forward for your new friends, critical employers and hopefully future spouses.

3. Show me your badge. Inconspicuously located at the bottom left of the new profile page is the new badge system. I could be wrong if this is actually new: it may have been even more inconspicuously hidden somewhere else before, but I digress. This allows you to create a widget-like badge to handily display your profile on your website, blog, etc. Definitely handy if you prefer your Facebook image rather than your blogger image, for example.

BTW: You can currently check out what a badge looks like at the top right of this blog. Like it? Hate it? Let me know at the comments!

1. Where’s Wall-post? True story: My mother (bless her heart, but she’s honestly part Facebook stalker) made it a point to tell me that I failed to respond to one of the people who greeted me a happy birthday on my wall. This was easily remedied, but then I noticed I missed a bunch of others as well because it did not show up on my profile page. Particularly annoying, especially if you have no other way to easily check wall posts (Yay for smartphones!).

2. What? I have to click TWICE to update my status? In an attempt to increase usability, Facebook decided to segment all update activity into separate clicks (video, photo, links). But by doing so, they also decided to add a new status button as a 4th option, scrapping the previous update text box. This means, you guessed it, you have to choose an option before being able to type anything, even if it’s a three-word status. Call me picky, but there’s a distinct decrease in usability between 1 click updates and 2+ clicks. I blame Amazon for spoiling us with it’s 1-click shopping model.

3. Photo Stream Malfunction. Scandalous moments can happen at a single moment, and having the wrong photo pop up in your Facebook profile front and center can spell immediate disaster for your personal and professional life. It’s completely static right now (as far as I can tell), but depending on how Facebook programs this in the future, you could end up having to constantly monitor your profile page just to make sure of your photo stream. You and Facebook have to be EXTREMELY careful your wild party last night doesn’t end up on your parent’s/boss’ screens.

And there you have it! Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, I hope I encouraged you to either jump in or stay away from the new profile page. Since it’s still undergoing tests and changes, it’s not mandatory to change yet. But, Facebook has said that this will become a permanent change later on.

So, before this post becomes moot, I hope you keep enjoying Facebook your way and pray that Facebook ultimately delivers on its promise of user experience and simplicity.

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Social is Irrational

November 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Posted in Other | Leave a comment

One evening, there was a debate going on about a marketing video that I made. This video was was passing the final “audit”, so to speak.

There were two opposing sides to the debate about whether this video should go up or not. One side argued against the funny approach the video was leaning towards: “This video is too confusing; trying to promote the product and being too funny at the same time. It’s taking the viewer through a pointless roller coaster ride”

The other side then said: “That’s exactly what we want to do, take them for a ride. People want to be confused – it creates buzz and drama. Social is irrational that way.”

That statement struck me. Hard. It made think a couple of things. One is to question my job choice, since I’m hopelessly logical to the point of naivety.

The other reason is simply me asking myself: Does succeeding in social require a certain sense of illogical madness?

Is Social Irrational?

Thinking about this statement for a minute, I could see why it makes sense. If you look at the trending topics and videos online, it’s very hard to discern a pattern on why it’s trending. Case and point: if a video of a cat jumping into boxes can reach 4,000,000+ views while even the most crafted of marketing videos struggle to get that high, that says just how randomly intricate the human preference is.

Now, I think that most people can admit to being irrational to at least some degree. So which motivation triggers rationally and irrationally? I’d argue that we can look no further than two things we do everyday: buy and share.

The “buy” vs “share” scenario:

The traditional scenario of selling something to a customer/making them do something, it has, until now, been a binary concept: buy or not buy. It’s a simple switch in the brain that, although based on a million factors, boils down to whether they have a reason to buy the product enough or not. Selling something then involves satisfying enough of these factors to switch from not buy to buy.

Social though is based on another level of human behavior. The choice is no longer binary – it becomes a much larger question.

A simple example:

You see a product online being offered for a discount. Decision to buy – Yes/No.
That ends the binary decision. But, with the tools available today, the choice becomes wider.

You see an option to share this deal with a friend.
There now comes a ton of reasons on why you would choose to do so, not all of them personal.

For example.
1. Am I willing to promote this company?
2. Do I have a friend who would want this?
3. Do I have the time to share this?

Just when you ask these three questions, sub-questions already appear:
1. Why am I willing to promote this company (for free)?
2. Who do I know enough to bother recommending this?
3. How useful will this information be to that person?

See the transition? It transformed from a simple yes/no answer to a complex decision, simply because it involved entities other than the person him/herself. It’s not about the notion of “me” anymore, but “them” as well: what their preferences and motivation are.

So, I do think that social makes the decision irrational. This however, questions why companies pay good money to social media people in the first place. If a click on a video, status update or a tweet doesn’t mean that people will necessarily net a profit, then why do companies still have to go social?

My answer? Social is to connect, not to sell. It just so happens that connecting to people often leads to that sale.

(How irrational of me.)

Lessons from “The Social Network”

November 29, 2010 at 12:15 am | Posted in Other, Social Media News | Leave a comment

The Social Network

It’s impressive and slightly alarming how many times I’ve referenced The Social Network at work as of late. It’s particularly alarming because I know that this is not an actual history of Facebook, nor was it meant to be an accurate representation of social media 101.

But, life often imitates art, and I think that we can learn much about life in social through The Social Network.

The Social Network: Why bother?

First off, I highly encourage anyone even remotely interested in social media to watch this movie. The acting is unexpectedly good and the story telling is simply phenomenal. The director used his artistic freedom from the facts to spin a tale that’s still believable but extravagant at the same time.

Moreover, it puts a lot of social media elements into a fresh perspective, some of which is what I want to point out here.

And just for the sake of online etiquette: Fair Warning – SPOILER ALERT. Please stop reading right now if you wish to watch the movie with a completely blank slate later. I suggest watching this comedy classic video instead.


The first thing I want to point out is an ongoing theme of the film. Eduardo Saverin (the finance guy) wanted to monetize The Facebook almost immediately. Mark Zuckerberg protests this idea for the majority of the film, because of one simple reason:

“It’s cool right now.”

That phrase has a lot of meaning behind it, as Justin Timberlake’s character, Sean Parker, later explains in the film. The explanation is that as The Facebook was starting, it already had a ton of users and was growing at an exponential pace simultaneously being the cause and effect of making it “cool”. Monetizing it – running third party advertisements, selling to investors, getting acquired – would only destroy this momentum. In short, making money off it would indirectly make it not “cool”.

I honestly think that Mr. Parker was right. Not necessarily taking it to the extremes that Facebook did, but focusing on making the product “cool” – usability, service, value-added, rather than how to make money off it will ultimately pay off in the end. It’s certainly a strong natural argument: people want accessibility AND value for free; if they can use something awesome without having to pay a dime, they will more than likely not only go for it, but ALSO tell their friends to do the same as well (viral!). This is also part of the reason on why social itself is important. Talking to people naturally, getting them to join your “club” and get perks for free for doing so, builds up your reputation, brand and ultimately, the all-important your user base. There’s a lot to be said about the difference between 100 users and 10,000 users… or, in the words of Sean Parker, 1 million dollars to 1 billion dollars. (I still feel sorry for that story about the owner of Victoria’s Secret by the way….)

The other thing I want to point out from the movie is more related to social media and involves what the love interest, Erica Albright, says to Mark near the end of the film.

“When you write something on the web, you don’t write with a pencil or a marker – you write with ink.”

Aside from stunning me for a good 5 seconds for the awesome delivery of the line, I would argue that this single line is the entire lesson of the movie. In the story, Facebook all started when Mark thrashes Erica on his blog after Erica dumps him. True to the statement, the result of that post obviously cannot be denied: Facebook’s subsequent success and the irreparable relationship he has with Erica (I’m 100% certain that friend request he makes at the end will be denied… sorry Mark.)

Taking this to a more real life perspective though, public entities left and right are still making the same irreparable mistakes with the social media ink. Notable examples include Domino’s desecrating their pizza and Astrospace destroying their credibility. Even if the legal ramifications are meted out, the perpetual nature of information in the Internet ensures that someone, somewhere will still read this article and draw negative thoughts out of it.

In a sense, this is what makes social media that much more dangerous than saying something in real life. If you liken saying something to “hearing the tree fall in the forest”, posting something online would be “leaving a $1 bill on Wall Street” – someone’s bound to pick that up. Hearing something happens in that moment, and is prone to being forgotten. The Internet on the other hand is a ruthless, impartial and everlasting biography of half the planet.

Now, what can people working in social do about this? I’m certainly not arguing to be overly meticulous of your tweets from now on; that’s both impractical and counterproductive (you’re more likely to make a mistake when you overthink). What I am arguing is that as representatives of yourself or your company, mean what you say and be proud of what you say. This is a very general and simple value, but unfortunately rare with all the dirt going around online.

Think about it this way: If you’re sure that you want to say something any why you want to say it, then even if the message backfires, you’re that much more ready to defend yourself.

After all, that’s truly what we get paid for, right?

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