Entries in Social Media (11)


Condom Campaign Latest Social Media Marketing Disaster

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A condom giveaway hijacked by pranksters: It's the latest example of a social media marketing campaign gone wrong.

Durex recently asked its Facebook followers to pick which city they thought should get Durex SOS Condoms, which, according to the company's website, are provided on a rush basis to customers via a smartphone app.

According to Durex's website, London (with 594 votes) did not win. Nor did Paris (688), New York (363), or Kuala Lumpur (1,420). Tuscaloosa wasn't even in the running. Pranksters, according to Bloomberg, swung the vote to Batman (1,731), capital city of a conservative Muslim province in Turkey, where condoms are unwelcome.

These days, say experts, any brand that wants to remain engaged with its audience has to have a social media marketing campaign. But such campaigns, they say, are opportunities for abuse.

McDonald's in 2012, according to Bloomberg, sponsored a Twitter campaign that invited patrons to post stories of their favorite McDonald's experiences. Instead of a torrent of warm, feel-good recollections, McDonald's got snarky Tweets that included the following:

"My memories of walking into a McDonald's: The sensory experience of inhaling deeply from a freshly-opened can of dog food."

And this one: "McDonald's customers don't want to tell #McDStories. They just want their fries, mechanically separated chicken parts and wallow in shame."

McDonald's, says Bloomberg, ended the promotion less than two hours after its debut.

The problem in these two cases—and in many others—say experts, is that the campaigns gave respondents too much leeway.

It's a big mistake, says social marketing expert Kevin King, global chairman of Edelman Digital, to invite "open voting." Better, he says, to give respondents a limited list of options.

It's wise too, to keep close tabs on responses.

Ben Foster, senior vice present of digital media for Ketchum public relations, says companies make a mistake by not keeping close watch on what the public is saying.

Others err by thinking that monitoring software can take the place of human lookouts.

"People have taken a lot of shortcuts when it comes to listening," Foster tells ABC News.

"A machine cannot do it. We advise clients: actually go in and see what people are saying." Software, he says, can sometimes fail to detect an ominous comment because the sender has misspelled the "red flag" words or phrases the automatic filter was supposed to detect.

Make sure, he says, that the person tasked with monitoring takes the job seriously. "Don't just look for the youngest person in the room to run it. Put an expert in charge."

How quickly a company reacts when it detects the first sign of trouble can be critical, King says.

Nikon launched what seemed to be an innocuous enough Facebook campaign to promote its lenses and other photography equipment. It contained the statement, "A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures!"

Nikon's Facebook page, according to Tineka Smith of Computer Business Review, soon filled with complaints from photo buffs who took umbrage at the insinuation they were less important than the lens.

Nikon retreated, posting: "We know some of you took offense, and we apologize, as it was not our intent to insult any of our friends. A great picture is possible anytime and anywhere."

King doesn't recommend censoring customers' comments, because to do so may "only feed the anger." But companies need to monitor responses and respond quickly when they see trouble. Every situation is unique. "There's no playbook," he says. "You've got to watch the nuances, make those decision in real time: are people really upset? Is it really a protest? The quicker you react makes a difference."

A company that recognizes and responds promptly to someone genuinely offended, says King, "can stop the viral juggernaut."

Sometimes, he says, it takes only one spark to ignite a long-smoldering mass of customer resentment — ones of which the social marketers may not be aware. A company could get advance warning of such a danger if it linked its customer service department to its social media department. "But few do," says King. Many social media disasters he calls "self-inflicted wounds."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Demanding Facebook Passwords May Break Law, Say Senators

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants' Facebook profiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individuals' restricted profiles.

Job applicants have reported situations in which employers, potential employers, or colleges have asked for Facebook passwords so they can inspect people's profiles.

"It's an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people's private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process," said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, on the ACLU's website. "People are entitled to their private lives."

Other privacy groups have expressed similar opinions and even Facebook's own privacy officer, Erin Egan, weighed in.

"In recent months, we've seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people's Facebook profiles or private information," Facebook's Egan said.

"This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."

And the legal issue has brought government officials, including a number of senators, to fight this practice. Monday, New York Senator Charles Schumer and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate if the practice violates federal laws.

Schumer and Blumenthal said in their letter that they are "drafting legislation that would fill any gaps in federal law that allow employers to require personal login information from prospective employees to be considered for a job."

Maryland Senator Ronald Young has already been fighting that fight in his home state. After hearing that an applicant at the Department of Corrections in Maryland had to sit and watch his employer go through his Facebook page and that student-athletes were being forced to share their Facebook logins with schools, Young drafted a Social Media Privacy bill.

"I put in two pieces of legislation to stop these practices. It is an infringement on constitutional rights," Sen. Young told ABC News. "Lots of these organizations don't realize they are asking the same thing as monitoring a phone call or reading your personal mail." Some schools require students to download social media monitoring software, like UDilidence and Varsity Monitor, which can access their password-protected content.

The legislation, which was submitted last year, has passed the Maryland State Senate; it is now in the House.

However, even without this legislation, what many of these employers and universities are doing could be illegal. Since employers may be exposed to private information such as age, national origin, race, they could be violating the Stored Communications and Computer Fraud and Abuse acts.

Bradley Shear, a social media lawyer and expert in the field, also mentions that if they are a public institution they could be violating the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.

Still, Shear said, updated legislation is needed to solve this problem.

"Until someone says no, you can't do it, they are going to do it -- that's why the legislation is important. This legislation is needed on a state and a national level. It's that simple."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twitter Acquires Blogging Service Posterous

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Twitter, the popular social networking site that lets users share updates in just 140 characters, has just announced that it has acquired Posterous, a micro-blogging service.

The terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed. Both companies announced the acquisition on their respective company blogs.

Posterous Spaces, the company’s blogging platform, was an early competitor to Tumblr and allows users to share text, video and pictures with others. According to the post on Posterous’ website, the product “will remain up and running without disruption. We will give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service.”

A similar message is conveyed in Twitter’s post, although it mentions there will be instructions on how to back up content in the coming weeks.

“Acquisitions have given us people and technology that have enabled us to more quickly build a better Twitter for you,” it is also said.

Lots of hypotheses about what Twitter will do with the service are swirling around the tech industry, but there is general agreement that the message is that Twitter is looking to expand its feature set.

“It appears Twitter is looking to evolve from the status update service it started as to an information service optimized for sharing and consuming information and content,” Gartner research director Michael Gartenberg said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SXSW 2012: Is Google+ a Flop? Or the Future?

Google(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Twitter and Facebook might be winning the social networking war, but Google’s not giving up. And its Google+ social network is becoming more and more a part of the search experience for which people know Google most.
That was the message from Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior VP of Google's social business, at SXSW, the annual conference in Austin on interactive media.

“You can think of Google Plus as Google 2.0,” he said in an on-stage interview conducted by Guy Kawasaki, who is best known for having been one of the first employees of Apple. “In the new Google, we know your name, we understand your circles, and we make every service better.”

Gundorta talked about how Google+ spans across all of Google’s services, including search and maps, which gives it a leg up on other social media.  ”Wait to you see what we are going to do next, wait until you see how Google comes together in a beautiful integrated experience,” he said.

He also confronted head-on the argument that Google+ has been a flop so far.

“The numbers are pretty staggering,” he said. Google is measuring success not by people who are signing up, he said, but by people who continue to come back to the service.

According to Gundotra, 100 million people have come back to Google+ within 30 days and done something on the service.

Of course, Kawasaki asked if Google was up to anything evil with what it now knows about its users through the social service.

Gundotra’s answer: “If we do things that are evil, with one click you can leave.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Blockbuster to Launch Movie Rental Application via Facebook

Blockbuster Inc.(MCKINNEY, Texas) -- Blockbuster is making friends—and lots of them. The movie rental giant is slated to link with Facebook in the near future with an application that will allow customers to rent and watch movies through the social media site.

Facebook’s new Blockbuster app is primarily focused on digital rentals and will provide customers with an enhanced digital catalog that will feature video playback through an embedded player.

People will be able to navigate the library through their Facebook accounts.

For those without Facebook accounts, Blockbuster has merged with the site to create a seamless account creation process.

The application’s announcement was made at the f8 Developer Conference in San Francisco Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Twitter Loses Important Followers: Two Directors Step Down

Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter just lost three very important followers.

Two of Twitter's earliest investors, board members and venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Bijan Sabet are stepping down alongside Twitter’s Chief Scientist Abdur Chowdhury, the social media giant announced Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter plans to reduce the size of its board from nine to seven directors. The decision comes after a round of financing in August that valued the company at around $8 billion.

The two departing directors, Wilson and Sabet, will be replaced, according to reports.

The San Francisco-based company announced in early September that it had more than 100 million monthly active users.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Americans Spend More Time on Facebook than Other Websites

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nielsen Media Research, the company that measures TV viewership and provides ratings, recently examined social media in the U.S. and discovered Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other website.  Nielsen’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report” reveals that during May 2011, Americans spent more than 53 billion total minutes on Facebook.

Blogger was ranked a distant second with 723.8 million total minutes, followed by Tumblr with 623.5 million minutes.  Americans spent 565.2 million total minutes on Twitter in May 2011 and 325.7 million minutes on LinkedIn.

Additional findings from Nielsen’s "State of the Media: The Social Media Report":

-- Social networks and blogs dominate Americans’ time online and now account for 22.5 percent of total time spent on the Internet, followed by 9.8 percent for online games and 7.6 percent for email.
-- Nearly 40 percent of social media users access social media content from their cellphones.
-- Internet users over the age of 55 are driving the growth of social networking through the Mobile Internet.
-- Seventy percent of active online adult social networkers shop online, 12 percent more likely than the average adult Internet user.
-- In a sample of ten global markets, social networks and blogs are the top online destination in each country, accounting for the majority of time spent online.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Facebook Ends Daily Deals

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Facebook is getting out of the daily discounts business after a four month trial.

The Palo Alto, California-based social networking giants says there is a lot of potential for driving people to local businesses, and it will continue to explore these opportunities.

That's not surprising, because a new study says half of all American adults are now on social networking sites. A third of baby boomers check in daily. The power users are young women, with more than twice as many logging in each day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Google+ Claims 20 Million Members in First Month

Comstock/Thinkstock(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- Google+ turns a month old on Thursday, and already it claims up to 20 million members. Since the service went live, Google Inc. stock has gone up nearly 30 percent, raising the value of the company (the "market cap" in Wall Street jargon) by $45 billion.

"They're probably the only company well positioned to launch a Facebook alternative," said Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and a prominent Google watcher. "People like alternatives. Twitter doesn't offer a full-fledged alternative to the Facebook experience. Google does."

Google+ is still far smaller than Facebook, but it is already stealing attention and advertising dollars. It offers one-stop shopping for people who want to link up with friends and family but don't like using multiple sites.

"Google+ has aspects of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in it, and folks are a bit overwhelmed with all of the different social networking services," said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst based in San Jose, Calif. "Folks have also crammed these other services with tons of 'friends' they don't really know, and the sheer volume of activity has weakened the quality of the experience."

Google+ will look familiar if you've used Facebook -- but different. There are photos and comments from friends, but there are also "circles" into which you can categorize people with whom you've linked -- friends, family, acquaintances and so on. There may be something silly from that Saturday-night party that you'd share with close friends, but not with a business connection.

Enderle says the mix is well-thought-out. "Google+ thus simplifies their online social networking life," he said in an email to ABC News, "and has allowed them to start over choosing their 'friends' more judiciously, preserving the quality of the experience."

That said, tech-industry wags like the irony that the most-followed public figure on Google+ is Mark Zuckerberg -- Facebook's founder. (Well behind, according to Google+ Statistics, are Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders.)

And writers have noted there's a tech-geek Silicon-Valley quality to Google+; Zuckerberg's 388,000 followers can't compare to the 11 million on Twitter that Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber each command.

But Google is not complaining. It has a success on its hands. "For people who love Google," said Sullivan, "it's like they've found a home where they can be loud and proud about the company."

One other thing: There is an aura of exclusivity to Google+. When it started you had to be invited to join, even if only by a friend you hadn't seen in years. "That last created a bit of a feeding frenzy that I think surprised a lot of us," said Enderle. "In a way they used social engineering to create initial demand and that was new to them."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Twitter Looking to Acquire TweetDeck

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The microblogging site Twitter is in “advanced talks” to buy TweetDeck, a popular cross-platform application that allows the site’s users to manage their accounts via computer or smartphone.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter is offering nearly $50 million for TweetDeck, though it is unclear how the social networking company would use TweetDeck, should the deal become official. Twitter already has its own downloadable applications for both the computer and mobile use.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio