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M&S turn a social media faux-pas into a gain!

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I often say that M&S do mobile well. They also have a great social media strategy. Here’s an example of why they do it well.

Last week one of their Facebook administrators forgot to logout of the M&S account and updated her personal status on the corporate one by mistake. The status update was that she had now found her missing phone. Oops! Not the worst thing to put on a status update, but still, it isn’t really the done thing for a corporate account. Although M&S deleted the update, rather than ignoring it, they asked for other stories of lost and recovered items instead. They quickly got over 40 comments with tales of tragedy and joy, and 150 likes. Not a massive gain,  it shows how having a human face is important in brand social media.

Facebook Failures Infographic

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As something of a Facebook skeptic (at least when it comes to a personal account), this handy inforgraphic lays out the history of problems with the social network. Interestingly, it was the failure of others, such as Friendster and MySpace that paved the way for Facebook’s success. So in spite of getting it wrong on a regular basis, the rise and rise of Facebook continues. Never mind the privacy, its the functionality that counts.

Facebook Deals launches in Europe

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Facebook Deals, similar to Foursqaure’s Check-In Offers, launches in Europe from Monday 31st Jan. One of the first up is Argos, who are using it for charity donations. The first 10,000 people to check in through Facebook Places will see £1 each being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. With 1/3rd of the company’s sales coming through their website, and 60,000 plus fans on Facebook, it looks like Argos will find their 10,000 check-in’s pretty quickly.

Whilst the Argos deal is the most high profile, other brands including Debenhams, O2, Alton Towers and Mazda are also taking iniatives. YoSushi! who are offering 5 free plates and a drink for those checking in to selected restaurants. At a time when retail sales are taking a plunge in the UK, Facebook Deals may help drive some business back to the high street.

Why I’m not on Facebook (pt 3)

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In my ongoing need to justify whey I’m not on Facebook, I have a couple of quotes that aptly explain some of the reasons:

Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site.

And,

Your social-networking site becomes a central platform—a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it. The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the Web becomes fragmented, and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space.

Who said that? Tim Berners-Lee. I’m not saying that we should make all of our personal details available on the web, but what I do think is that using our personal information as a currency for advertisers is not good. It is inevitable that such data has to be kept behind a walled garden, which is entirely against the core principles of the web.

 

Why I’m not on Facebook (Pt 2)

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Earlier this year I felt it necessary to explain why I’m not on Facebook (and no, I’ve never been to a McDonalds either). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media as such (look, I blog), but I outlined my reasons pretty clearly. I was also trying to avoid seeing The Social Network film, however, I finally went to see it this weekend (yes, I’m probably the last person to get around to it). It’s not a bad film, but it confirmed to me all the reasons why I don’t do the Facebook thing. The film confirmed most of the things on my list or reasons – they talk about writing in ink on the internet, I talk about the internet not forgetting – and my prime reason for not being on it, is the cliquiness. The whole concept of FB was about cliques, both preserving and creating them. So there you have it, I don’t do Facebook and as yet I have no compelling reason to do so (nor go to a McDonalds for that matter).

Facebook iPhone app users: the numbers keep dropping!

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It was only a couple of weeks ago that Facebook announced there were 102 million users accessing the site through the iphone app, along with 57 m on BlackBerry and nearly 12 m on Android. The social networking site has now changed it’s mind, and said that the figure is closer to 44 million. Or 66 million depending on what you read! The 44 m was quoted by FB to Engadget, and the 66 m is quoted on Facebook’s own page. Confused? It looks like everyone is.

A company engineer recently blogged that there were 150 million people accessing the site through their mobile phones, but it looks like that figure will also have to be revised down. Which ever way you look at it, it is fair to say that FB has many mobile users, but the exact figure is now a very cloudy one. It highlights one of the many problems with mobile marketing – getting acurate data is difficult, or near impossible.

Facebook Places launches in the US (and privacy concerns ensue)

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Facebook is launching their new location service, Facebook Places today amid the inevitable privacy concerns. Places works in a similar way to Foursquare and Gowalla, with users checking-in to locations which are then shared with their friends. At this stage it’s not clear whether when Check-In offers will be available for discounts and free stuff from brands. A Facebook spokesperson claimed that they were not infringing privacy and said: “We equate it with this existing mechanism where your friends can tag in photos – the control is that you are always notified and can remove those tags at any time”. Fine, except that users have been continually confused and frustrated by their privacy settings. I have previously argued that social media sites have a greater responsibility to make their users aware of the potential privacy issues. It is something Foursquare seems to be taking in hand and perhaps showing a few lessons to the bigger boys of social media?

Guardian Media report here

Facebook Mobile: now 150 million mobile users

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Another day and another new high figure for Facebook. This time it’s their mobile users who are now at 150 million people according to blog from one of their engineers. That is nearly 1/3rd of their 500 million users. The blog is about their mobile api, but conveniently mentions this new high figure in passing. Sadly it doesn’t give details about which handsets are the most popular (iPhone I would guess), but it does indicate the importance of mobile to social media.

Openbook fuels Facebook privacy issues

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Facebook‘s ‘Posts by everyone’ feature has been taken up by a new site, Openbook, and shows how much people are prepared to (over) share. The feeds are full of people stating how they cheated in exams and took drugs. Not exactly a job reference.
One could argue that this isn’t Facebook’s fault, after all users are both responsible for what they post and can manage their own privacy settings. The ‘over-sharers’, as I call them, aren’t just on FB, Twitter and FourSquare have the same types in their own way. Why do people do it? I suspect there are two reasons: firstly, a few people just don’t realise and secondly, the rest are showing off to their mates and the rest of the world. You could argue that the second category deserve everything they get, but I don’t always feel that is the case.
Last week a man in the UK was arrested, had his computer equipment seized and was fined for a Tweet threatening to do serious damage to an airport after his flight had been canceled yet again (volcano rage). His Tweet may have been ill advised, but I can understand someone seeing red and just loosing it. It was pretty obvious that he didn’t actually mean what he said, but in this paranoid society we live in you have to take care.
I believe that social media sites have a far greater responsibility to take care of their members privacy than they do. It goes beyond offering settings options. These options should default to the most secure. Certain posts should be filtered … if Openbook can pick on people admitting to cheat in their exams, how hard would it be to have a message along the lines of ‘do you really want to post this update?’, before they click the button?
However Facebook have a difficult path to tread. If they are to realise value from their site, then they need to offer advertisers more and more options for targeting customers. From that perspective, the ‘post to everyone’ feature is advertising gold. The flip side, however, is that as privacy concerns increase, more users will leave the social networking site.
From a mobile perspective the issue is significant. We have already seen security issues with FourSqaure, and with FB adding location into it’s settings these issues will significantly grow.

Facebook privacy concerns may scupper their advertising

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From an advertising perspective Facebook is a dream. With the data it has no it’s members it can offer a very accurate behaivoural targetting of it’s ads. And Facebook has made a great success of it. Whilst it was struggling to make money last year, in 2010 their advertising revenue has sored. Comscore measured Facebook as offering over 16% of all ad impressions online.
However, to the Facebook member, behavioural targetting, and more importantly, privacy issues are not a dream, but actually a nightmare. Many of the recent changes in profile status etc are aimed at improving FBs appeal to advertisers. This blog here, expresses some of those concerns. We may see a situation where FB is loosing as many members as it gains with it’s changes to their privacy and user settings. And I’m not making it up. Look at the huge traffic surge on wikiHow on how to delete a Facebook account.
Long term, if I was Facebook I’d be worried.