Tag Archives: Robert Scoble

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: John Markoff, New York Times Part 2”

It’s Thursday and time for another exciting installment of “3Q’s in 3 Min.” Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

This week is part 2 of our discussion with the New York Times’ John Markoff. Last week, John discussed his beat and pondered the future of social media. Today, he declares RSS the new newswire and Robert Scoble the new John Henry. He also discusses the evolution of the PR pitch.

Quick, all you tech geeks out there, figure this out: If John has been covering tech since one year after Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple; two years after Bill Gates and Paul Allen partnered up; and 5 months after I was born, how old am I? (Hint: Check this article Markoff wrote about last May’s big Gates/Jobs Lovefest at the D:All Things Digital conference.)

Yup, you figured right, which means John has seen it all. So listen closely to his advice on best pitching practices:

In this age of social media, how often do you send personalized paper mailers to your top targets? Do consider reporter relations as important as blogger relations?

Once again: Thank you John for a great interview!

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Best Practices, Citizen Reporter, Future of Media, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Zuckerberg Plays Jetman While Facebook Burns”

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[UPDATED INFORMATION BELOW]

On Tuesday, Facebook took the hardest bashing of its short history, with FORTUNE’s Josh Quittner echoing the rest of the blogosphere in a post ruefully titled “RIP Facebook?” This follows Monday’s news that Facebook confirmed a finding by security firm Computer Associates that Beacon still sends information back to Facebook even when you are not logged in. (For a complete history of the last few weeks, check this New York Times article by Louise Story.) Subtract a few key advertisers, add a lawsuit questioning the allegedly shady history of Facebook’s founding and an attempt by Facebook to block First Ammendment rights, and Facebook seems to be embroiled in a PR quagmire.

The question on everyone’s mind is: Where is Mark Zuckerberg?

He’s playing Jetman, of course. Take a look at the below screen cap I grabbed from his Facebook profile (click to enlarge):

Mark Zuckerberg plays Jetman

WOW! A score of 1942! Congrats, Mark!

Was he working off a little stress while in between Crisis Control sessions with his PR team? The blogosphere doesn’t think so. Just look at this post by Robert Scoble advising Zuckerberg to say something (this is just the nice stuff):

Facebook’s PR machinery is hiding its head in the sand and hoping this story goes away.

Hint: it’s not.

Do the press conference. Admit you screwed up. Take your shots. Look into the camera and say you’re sorry.

Crisis PR hint: don’t answer company bashing with text messages. Do it in video and with live events. Have the CEO do it.

Henry Blodgett, Todd Defren (satirically blogging as Fake Mark Zuckerberg), Brian Solis, and several other key PR bloggers all offered similar advice: Fess Up.

So what exactly can Facebook do to pull themselves out of the muck:

1. Zuckerberg–not a PR spokesperson–needs to admit to the community and advertisers he made a mistake.

  • Explain that FB learned the hard way that privacy is important.
  • As a result, FB wil allow a members to Opt-In (as opposed to currently being forced to Opt-Out) to Beacon.
  • FB apologizes profusely and promises to make the selling and use of member data a transparent process.

2. Utilize the social media upon which FB is built.

  • Eat the loss of prime Ad real estate and post the video apology in a banner over the newsfeed, not in the New Features” group.
  • No blog posts since mid-November. Fix that.
  • If you are feeling a little more hip: Create a live videocast (to be archived) with live questions being submitted through the community and Twitter.

3. Send an open letter to blogs and top-tier publications. Reach out to the reporters and bloggers who feel used and lied to.

  • Better yet, do a video blog tour with top bloggers (ala Don Imus, et al.)

4. Appoint a User Privacy Guru to launch an educational program on how member data is handled and what members can do to protect their privacy.

  • Create a Privacy Rights/User Data partnership with other social networks.
  • This transparency and education will regain user trust.

5. Community Managers address bloggers concerns as they come up.

  • Don’t hide behind your PR spokesperson. Get involved!

Don’t forget your community (and your financial success) is based on the users. You have to listen to them and respect them. If they aren’t happy, they’ll easily move on to the next big thing. Part of me hopes that FB really thought users would see the value in Beacon. The other part thinks that FB only saw the dollar value it could gain from Beacon.

Social networks are trusted spaces. Facebook differentiated itself as the social network where members could control privacy settings, thereby allowing only some friends to see certain things. We felt like Facebook was a safe place where we could share our lives with our friends. Beacon violated that trust. It’s sad and I feel completely used.

A quick Twitter poll asking what Facebook could do to regain trust yielded several responses, all easily summed up by Kyle Flaherty‘s Tweet:

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What can Facebook do to regain your trust? Or do you feel Facebook has done nothing wrong?

[UPDATE: This morning, Mark Zuckerberg posted an apology on Facebook’s Blog. Is that enough? Do you trust them again?]

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Filed under Best Practices, Community Relations, Democracy and Media, It's A Conversation, Rants, Social Networking, WTF?

“Apple’s Social Media Efforts Need to Ripen”

During the last several years, Apple has undeniably been the innovator in hardware design, software and personal consumer tech. They’ve also been on the cutting edge of entertainment by effectively bringing the music industry into the digital age.

Last Friday and Saturday, Robert Scoble wrote two posts that remind me (and others) of Jeff Jarvis’ Dell Hell rants. When Scoble installed last weeks updates, his computer got stuck in reboot. Here’s what he has to say:

So I restart. And get the same message. I do it five times just to make sure.

And so, now I’m back on my Windows machine.

Screw you Apple and your ads saying you’re better than Microsoft. Screw you. Screw you. Screw you.

His second post discusses the brand promise that Apple makes through advertising and how he sees it flawed. You can read his full list of grievances in the post. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes, I agree that Apple will need to change soon if it wants to keep up in the Post-Dell Hell era.

In its current state, Apple has a strong community of devoted users. Do an online search and you’ll find plenty of mac forums and mac blogs. There’s even a fake Steve Jobs blog. The company itself is surprisingly lacking in engagement with this community. In fact, it has actively sued bloggers in the past. In the last few weeks, Apple has even sent a cease and desist letter to a nine year old.

As Apple computers (not just iPods) are purchased by more mainstream consumers, Apple will find itself slowly being pushed into the conversation. Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim sees two situations that will force this change:

  1. It will reach customers that aren’t capable of tinkering and tweaking with their own stuff. Even Scoble didn’t know he could fix his computer by a “start in Safe Boot (press and hold the Shift key at the startup chime)? Starting in Safe Boot forces a directory check, so will verify if there is a problem with your startup disk.”
  2. The Apple evangelists–the ones that have always come to Apple’s defense–will be stretched too thin. They simply can’t jump in to every conversation and defend every forum comment and blog complaint.

So what can Apple do to increase it’s social media marketing and PR efforts:

  1. Create a Community Evangelist position to monitor the Apple dialog on Blogs for negative conversation threads and comment as a human. This helps consumers feel like they are being listened to, while simultaneously allowing Apple to more-or-less steer the conversation.
  2. Be honest. So I said they could steer the conversation…within reason. The users will be able to smell PR spin, so don’t try to incorporate too much messaging. If there is a problem, acknowledge it. Right now the Leopard install has caused crazy bugs that people are talking about in forums. Mac continues to deny it. I’m getting PO-d.
  3. Create a blog. Steve Rubel said it in 2004. Apple is the only large tech company to not have one. I understand corporate secrecy in product development, but come on. Dell’s is a great example. They talk about OpenWorld, Word of Mouth Marketing, Green issues, geeky consumer tech, servers, etc. They also have videos!
  4. Close the feedback loop. Wait, first create a feedback loop! Back to Dell: they have a created the IdeaStorm community to allow users to submit ideas and then other users vote on the ideas. The whole process is tracked with transparency and also shows results at the end. This is key: It lets consumers know they have a voice and that someone is not just listening but also acting as a result.
  5. Instead of suing bloggers for leaking things, show videos of products as they are being developed. Transparency and openness. Of course, you need to wait until you are close to release. If others are going to do it, owning it makes Apple cool again.

Oh, and putting out ads that show this:

When this is the reality:

Is really, really bad. It makes Apple look removed from reality, disengaged with the consumer and, frankly, a little arrogant.

What are your suggestions to Apple? Or are they doing ok? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Any Mac Marketing or PR folks wanna speak to socialTNT’s readers? Tell us what’s up!

Before I get flamed: My whole house is full of Mac equipment from desktops, laptops, network gear, etc.

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Related Posts:

“PR to Enterprise: Beam Me Up”

“Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Mario Sundar, LinkedIn”

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Filed under Best Practices, Community Relations, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Sharing is Caring, Social Media, WTF?

“RSS for Success: A Primer”

RSS icon logo

If you don’t have RSS on your corporate blog, you need to add it, ASAP. In fact, it’s been two and a half years since Robert Scoble said:

Sorry, if you do a marketing site and you don’t have an RSS feed today you should be fired.

I’ll say it again. You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed.

Pretty harsh words. While I may not agree to the firing, I do agree with the sense of urgency. RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication,” is what I consider to be the most important must-have–after content–for any corporate or personal blog. Once you understand how the technology works and why it’s beneficial to PR and Marketing professionals, you’ll wonder how you survived without it.

It’s like a private wire service!

Simply put, RSS is a newsfeed. Think of it as a blog’s personal wire service. Every time you post new content on your blog, it gets pushed out to subscribers. Depending on the reader, internet browsers see either the headline or the full article. Here’s what it looks like using the active bookmarks in my Firefox browser:

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On the left, you see all of the PR RSS feeds to which I’m subscribed. I simply mouse over them and the window expands. It’s like a menu of content. It’s a great time saver for your readers: They don’t have to leave what they are doing to see that there has been an update. One click glance let’s them know if there is something new and it let’s them choose how they want to receive the content.

For bloggers and marketers, an RSS feed is instant distribution of content–kinda like sending out your own newspaper or magazine, but digitally. It also helps build and track your audience by looking at the number of subscribers.

I like it cause it lets me scan a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Your ticket to the stars…

Ok, maybe not stars, but did I mention top tier bloggers and reporters scan feeds religiously? Marshall Kirkpatirck (formerly of TechCrunch, now with Read/Write Web) uses them as primary sources for breaking news:

I am subscribed to thousands of RSS feeds and currently have thousands of unread items in my feed reader[…]I have several folders that include feeds from the blogs of companies I wrote about at TechCrunch, news search feeds for those companies and other high priority topics. I refresh and check those folders frequently throughout the day[…]

The single most helpful tool for me in my efforts to blog about news events first has been an RSS to IM/SMS notification tool. I use Zaptxt to subscribe to very high priority feeds. It sends me an IM and SMS whenever a high-profile company blog is updated and in a number of other circumstances[…]A big part of taking a prominent position in the blogosphere is writing first on a topic. That’s a large part of what got me the job at TechCrunch and it’s something that an increasing number of people are clearly trying to do.

And he’s not alone. If you can get your news to a reporter and blogger through the means they use, what’s holding you back?!

If your blogging or pagemaking software doesn’t come with an RSS feed creator, try this walk through to set one up. Promote your RSS on your blog or web page by prominently displaying it using this logo: It has become the universal symbol for RSS.

In your email’s signature, add a link to your blog and its feed so clients, colleagues and reporters can easily subscribe.

Burn it down

To make it easier to increase your syndication opportunities, use Feedburner. Feedburner is chock full of tools like traffic tracking and free branded-email creation.

RSS is also a great way to track competitors and industry news. Whether it’s subscribing to the New York Times,GigaOM or a friend’s personal blog, RSS readers provide an easy way to find and access all sort of online content. For online readers, try Netvibes; Google Reader; iGoogle; My Yahoo!; or Newsgator.

For a complete list of all things RSS related, including web-based and offline readers, check out this great guide from Mashable.

Do you have any tips or tricks for RSS? I’d love to hear them

Oh yeah, don’t forget to subscribe to my feed by RSS or email!

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“The Social Graph is PEEEEOPLE!”

As the dust settles on last week’s latest installment of the social network showdown between MSFT/Facebook and GOOG/Everyone Else, the idea of a universal social graph looks a little clearer. But what is it and how does it affect PR and Marketing folks?

Supposedly computer science peeps have been talking about the social graph as a concept for a while. To be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about it until May when Mark Zuckerberg enlisted application developers to tap into the social graph. Then, in August, LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick wrote a well formulated, high level discussion of the social graph. It, to me, really addressed several problems and concerns that would lead to the development of–or maybe it was already in the works–Google’s OpenSocial platform, announced last week.

I almost wrote about all things that graph social after attending Dave McClure’s “Graphing Social Patterns” conference, and then again after the Web 2.0 Summit. Both times, I felt like the idea of the social graph was not quite there.

So, before I discuss what it is, I have to disclose that I am neither a computer scientist nor am I a mathematician. I am, however, a PR/Marketing/Tech geek with a Bachelor’s in Social Anthropology. Therefore, this type of stuff gets me pretty excited.

A social graph is loosely defined, according to Brad Fitzpatrick, as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.” You may ask, “Isn’t that the definition of a social network?” My answer: Close, but not entirely.

For me (and Robert Scoble), a social network is a collection or a list of all my “friends” without the context. A social graph, on the other hand, explains why these people are relevant to you. On it’s lowest level, a social graph can be represented like an org-chart or a family tree.

When you add someone as a friend, Facebook asks the question: “How do you know this person?” This helps an outsider see that Audrey is a co-worker at SHIFT; Natalie is my cousin; Bekah is my housemate; Kathryn and I met through a friend while living in Berlin; etc. It’s almost like tagging, but, instead of a webpage or a bookmark, you are tagging people. This relationship information explains the social value that each person has.

Very quickly, social value is an important aspect of our lives. It let’s me know that I need to tuck in my shirt around the CEO, stopping looking at porn when my supervisor walks near my cubicle (JK!), and to respect cops. (Check out this essay on social value from 1908 by economist Joseph Schumpeter or look at Wikipedia.) For a marketer, being able to map that information is priceless.

But wait, there’s more…

When you fill out your profile, you enter in your interests. If you look at my profile, you can see that I like music, travel and photography. In terms of the social graph, I’m tagged (or plotted on the social graph) as someone who has an interest in boxing and chocolate. Paired with my demographics, Facebook now can show me as a married male in San Francisco in the (oh-so-old) 25+ demographic who likes camping. Great info for market research…or targeted ads.

On top of all that you also get… THIS INCREDIBLE JUICER!!!

Just kidding…kind of. The graph can get a little deeper than that. Take Amazon, for example. It’s constantly recommending items to me. I can evaluate these items on a scale of 1-5 or tell it “not interested.” After a while, it starts to know my behavior. All of these are tiny little tags graphing the bigger story: I like electronic music but am totally not interested in trance. You can also see that I’ve sent my grandmother a book on prayer for her birthday. Once again, more tags; more plots on the social graph.

What about digg or del.icio.us and the type of articles I like? How bout when I answer those surveys to get more points to buy caviar on the Facebook App FoodFight? Think about all that information you could mash-up to create highly-targeted marketing strategies or community outreach plans (eg hitting all the female members that live in Chicago and liked Spiderman).

Google and Facebook in the ring?

Once upon a time, the web was a mess. You sat at your computer and clicked around endlessly. One day, a beautiful search engine appeared to index everything on the web. Now users could find content quickly and easily, while advertisers could target people searching for a particular term. Then one day, social networks started appearing and the magic search engine could no longer get that information; all their users were in a wall…

Ok, I’ll spare the fairy tale and get to the point: Facebook keeps Google from accessing that information contained in the social graph.

One of Brad Fitzpatrick’s ideas was that there would be no one social graph, because every site kept the information to themselves. That was true until OpenSocial. Details on OpenSocial are still a little sketchy (to me at least), but it’s probably best described as an open API led by Google that allows cross-platform interoperability and integration (partners include Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, LiveJournal, Plaxo, and others). Basically: Where Google once created a table of content or index of everything on the web, OpenSocial will allow all of your interests, relationships, etc. to be indexed.

Of course, there are already talks of security concerns, but for a marketer (or anthropologist) there is a lot of really cool data out there that can now be harnessed.

What are your thoughts on the social graph? Is it useful or just another catch phrase?

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Filed under Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Graph, Social Networking