Category Archives: social

Barriers To Audience Engagement

this application will be able to huh?It’s nothing really new. You visit a Web site, read an article or consume some bits of content and, depending how much coffee you’ve drank, feel compelled to leave a comment.

“Join the conversation”, “share this post with your friends and followers” are the mantra of those looking to build an audience in what’s become a fractured digital landscape saturated with countless options vying for our attention.

What follows next (still) baffles me. Please sign-in with Facebook, Twitter, or [insert prominent social network here] to leave a comment on our glorious Web site.

Ok, if you insist. Hmm… I’ll choose Twitter.

Web-site-you-want-to-leave-a-comment-on would like to access your Twitter account and “Update your profile“, “Post Tweets for you“.

Oh wait. Let me think about that one for a moment. Hmm… No.

Incredibly there are many sites still employing this rather severe mode of access and APIs that want untethered access to everything under the sun, including your firstborn child.
Content administrators who subscribe to the argument of forcing users to sign-in with their social media credentials would likely say it’s the most effective way to ensure everyone leaving a comment is a real person. Automated bots and trolls on the other hand conspire to pollute discussion threads with bogus or low quality content, so these protocols are necessary the moderators would argue.

Perhaps so, but sites imposing strict rules governing audience engagement, for example, requiring users to log-in with their Facebook credentials or only a few other cherry-picked social networks, is an unfortunate measure for dealing with the mountains of automated crap now circulating the Web. I’m afraid resorting to these tactics only discourages authentic audience participation.

You Are What You Like

Facebook: You Are What You LikeApparently Facebook has begun re-posting people’s likes at random intervals, usually a prominent product or brand, posted with a hyperlink to a persuasively worded “related article” (a.k.a. Sponsored Story) . On the surface these pseudo-updates look authentic and almost identical to regular status updates, but guess what, they’re published on your behalf completely unbeknownst to you.

Last week my partner mentioned how odd it was that my Facebook updates were routinely including likes for a well-known brand of take-out pizza and Mexican fast food. Conservatively speaking, let’s say this was happening several times per week. Now don’t get me wrong, I love pizza and a good Mexican burrito every now and then, but I wouldn’t say I eat the stuff several times a week.
As it turns out I had in fact become a fan of these particular products several years ago. Now it seems these fast food brands wanted all my Facebook friends to know I was liking these products every week—again and again—presumably around dinner time.

While impersonation might sound a bit strong, Facebook could be seen as taking significant liberties with our likes by making it seem as though we’re actively endorsing a product or brand on a recurring basis. Using our name and profile picture next to an Ad gives the appearance of a legitimate personal status update and makes others—that is, our friends—more inclined to stop and read the message.
From a digital marketing perspective this is a very clever appropriation of our Facebook identity. Although the mild annoyance one might feel when they learn their profile is being used to promote products on a regular basis (and without expressed written consent) could eventually turn sour if friends start formulating certain opinions about you based on what you’ve liked in the not so distant past.

Update: Here comes the enevitable class action lawsuit.

Via Gizmodo:

In October [2011], Facebook agreed to a settlement about this whole Sponsored Stories issue, wherein they may have used your likeness in a Sponsored Story ad without your permission. The settlement set aside $20 million for you poor, wronged souls, and now Facebook is starting to get ready to pay it out.

So, in the event your likeness was appropriated you can file a claim to receive a whopping $10 payout from Zuckerberg and company.

Where Did Saturday Go?

Where Did Saturday Go?It’s been exactly 1-month and 1-day since I last blogged. Where does all the time go? It’s mildly alarming to think time speeds up as we get older, though I’m not so sure how I feel about it —would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

I think about the last time I was completely immersed in some activity for a period of time, 100% focused in the moment—like during an intense workout at the gym—physically pushing my body to the limit. Squeezing out just one more repetition!
It’s a great feeling when you can block out all the competing distractions floating around in your world and just experience a good sweat. Sometimes I’ll look up at the clock at the end of a grueling weight workout and wonder how the time seemed to just zip by so fast.

Claudia Hammond, author of the book: Time Warped: Unlocking the mysteries of Time Perception, suggests if you want the weekend to go slowly (and who doesn’t?!), don’t spend time loafing around on the couch watching TV. Instead go outside and fill your day with new experiences and by Sunday night you’ll look back and the weekend will seem long.

In my case the problem might be social media and, to a larger extent, a lot of time spent on the Web, but not really much television viewing. I’m finally up to date with Breaking Bad and Mad Men won’t be airing any new episodes until spring of 2013 so I’m game to start following another show soon as the winter months carry on.
Even with this void in my television viewing I feel like I’ve been spending less and less time with social media and more time with non-Web related things, despite the fact my Android phone seems to go with me everywhere. Twitter, in particular, sometimes feels like an insidious time-suck, conspiring to steal all my free time and distract me from getting important things done throughout the week —but I keep coming back to get my fix, like a drug addict.

Last week I read an interesting post on Adam Brault’s blog reflecting on why he quit Twitter for a month and how it completely changed his thinking about mostly everything. I’m sure a similar epiphany could be experienced by quitting Facebook, imgur, or what ever else turns your crank on the Web.

As an avid Twitter user for a little over 3-years now, I found Brault’s post strangely familiar in the sense that I’ve shared similar thoughts by recently questioning the amount of time I spend on so-called “social” networks.
Lately I feel like I’d rather spend more time exploring topics I find interesting written at length in full blog posts rather than relegate my thoughts to a few dozen or so 140-character blurbs people will probably regard as forgettable nonsense anyway. No really, Dolph Ziggler, your Tweets are absolutely riveting, that’s why I’m following you dude.

Over the past couple months I’ve gone down to just a few Tweets per week from several per day and probably less than 1-hour per week on Facebook. Overall I’m feeling a little less distracted by the relentless noise of the social Web as Christmas approaches, partially because I’m not constantly checking the endless stream of updates that seem to thwart the remaining fragments of my attention span.