Prohibition blog

May 2012

Viewing posts from May , 2012

The science behind Facebook is it for business or pleasure?

The world’s largest social-networking company saw a £2.2 billion drop in share prices on Monday at the stock exchange in New York. This was an immense shock to Mark Zuckerberg as shares were expected to soar at the hands of the investors.

Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook or has it always been just another social media bubble waiting to burst? There are a number of reasons claimed to be responsible for Facebook’s decline in value. The Washington Post’s online article has received numerous comments on the matter.

Facebook is a free to use platform where people visit to socialise, see what their friends have been getting up to and chat. It is becoming more apparent that users can choose to block out advertisements, unlike television, and are choosing not to engage with sellers.

I think the reason for the fall in Facebook’s share price is there is still an unclear path to make any real money. Facebook’s only worth, at the present time, is their database of users. Like Benjamin Cohen said in his blog for Channel 4 News, Facebook would have done better to split their shares between their billions of users, thus encouraging us to keep using their platform, increasing their worth.

Steve Rosenbush shares a similar view that Facebook’s true worth, their users and their behaviour has no real worth until marketers have a strategic plan of how to use this data. The drop in Facebook’s IPO shows that it’s glowing halo is not permanent and it could be the start of faith lost in social media.

I see Facebook as a way to keep in contact with friends overseas, the best thing that they can do for now is to keep their users happy, which the recent change to time line and their unreliable photo uploads are doing the complete opposite. Facebook has been massively over valued and would require millions of adverts in order to produce the revenue it predicted.

I think that advertisers need to re-think what they want from Facebook. I personally would not buy a product from a website I saw on Facebook. I would maybe read about a website and be educated about what a company does, but I would not use a direct link to purchase from Facebook as it stands.

Have You Got Any Klout?

Call me slow but Klout was something I stumbled across six months ago. At first it was something I looked at with amusement, but over time it is something I have started to take more seriously and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s down to the ego boost? It could possibly be down to the belief that I might receive free gifts? Whatever it is, in a short space of time I’ve started looking at my Klout score more seriously.

Over the last month my Klout score has been steady at around 45, recently hitting the dizzying heights of 46. This feels like an achievement, but I couldn’t say what it is that I’ve achieved. All I know is that whenever Match of the Day comes on my score will rise as I tweet about every game.

There is a lot of talk of people getting jobs because of their high score, and perfectly acceptable candidates rejected because theirs was low. As well as job offers, people have reportedly received speaking jobs as well as some fantastic perks such as test drives, clothes and even awards show tickets. So far my only perks have been some free business cards.

Although it does analyse what you are tweeting about it is quite difficult to really track what people are talking about, or as Klout call it, influencing. Some of the main topics I am apparently an influencer in are football, propaganda, Spain and director. Football I understand, being the Leeds United fan that I am I follow a lot of other Leeds fans and most of my conversations are about Leeds or football. Spain is on the list because I went there on holiday last month, Propaganda because it is a club night in Leeds I occasionally attend and director, well, I’m not entirely sure why that’s there.

Now more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. Cathay Pacific Airways have recently introduced an offer to allow anyone travelling with them from San Francisco with a Klout score of 40 or higher to be welcomed into their lounge, usually reserved for first class and business travellers. They will have access to workstations, showers and a noodle bar. It’s just a shame that my nearest airport is Leeds and Bradford.

I’m not entirely sure whether it’s something that organisations are doing out of fear. SouthWest Airline removed film director Kevin Smith from a flight, on which he had already taken his seat, for being too big. He launched a scathing attack on the company over Twitter to his 1.6 million followers and the airline were forced in to an apology. His tweets led to many more sharing similar stories and turned into a disaster for SouthWest.

 

Maybe they’re hoping that bribery will lead to good reviews. It stands to reason that those with high scores will have some level of authority on Twitter. By pandering to them many organisations will feel they are protecting themselves from those who they consider to be their biggest threat on social media. If that is the case however, would they not be better improving their customer service than offering test drives or hotel room upgrades because of their Klout?

Public relations: Taking a Job Interview Too Far?

Okay so we all know that questions at a job interview can be pretty difficult to answer, or have a response that you would rather not say but you have to say it in such a way that is not offensive to the employer or the company, so what would you say if you were asked for your Facebook password by an employer at a job interview?

Personally, I would say no. Not that I have anything to hide at all, but I think that privacy in a job is important. In PR you will always have to take work home, so keeping your private life private is one of the only things you are left with.

I think this is a great breach of trust and privacy by employers and I can’t think of any real reason for the need to look at personal messages and photo’s on the social networking platform.

A recent article on the Telegraph explained how many employers in the USA have been asking for login information if Facebook profiles are hidden on the website.

There was one case which saw an employee refuse the information despite a number of persistent questions from his boss. He still works for the company but there may be many cases were you can lose the job due to this fact alone!

My own personal view is that a job is not worth the invasion of privacy and in a day to day role, there is absolutely no need for an employer to know so much about your personal life.

As long as you are performing well at the job, what is the need for the extra knowledge?

Is it already time for The Voice to go quietly?

New music contest show, The Voice, debuted a few weeks ago with the expectations of fighting BBC’s corner against ITV rival Britain’s Got Talent. However, last Saturday the star-studded show lost viewers of about 4 million and received online ratings as being disinterested and bored.

When I first watched The Voice, it was refreshing to watch a competition show not based around sob stories and talent determined from personality. It had its own USP – the blind auditions, big red buttons and spinning chairs saying “I want you” along with the boxing ring sing off and no nasty Simon! Its positivity was enjoyable to watch just for the fact of real talent being rewarded. But now the reluctancy to provide us with some juicy villains and reasons to scream at the TV is now taking its toll …on a lot of the public. It has just failed to provide any interesting news-worthy shake-ups to maintain its momentum.

That brings me to another point – news. It’s not surprising that Simon Cowell brought out his new book the week before The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent went head to head. Spilling the goss on his love affairs with Danni Minogue and whoever else wears a skirt and has a heart that beats – this was definitely a timely attempt to gain the BGT boss a huge publicity bonus point to get the show back on the media map. This is more than what can be said for The Voice – what newsworthy contingency plan did they have? Not much really. This weekend saw a feud between The Voice’s boss, Danny Cohen, and Will.I.Am because Will couldn’t stop tweeting during the show! This is just bad PR; even a star on the show is bored.

After having a little look around, I’ve come to the conclusion that sob stories, villains, controversy, TV personality and TV spin does generate news and therefore viewings. People say that any press is good press (apart from if it’s non-controversial and boring press) – and this is what the music mogul, Simon Cowell is perfect for. In fact, SyCo in general is good for that. Having control over a large group of music artists in the UK and USA, the company has access to the likes of One Direction, Leona Lewis, JLS and Susan Boyle with the click of a finger to boost its audience ratings.

While writing this I’m actually watching Britain’s Got Talent, and something very interesting has happened. When questioning contestant singer songwriter, Ryan O’Shaughnessy which TV show he was previously on, he answered “The Voice in Ireland”. To this, Simon replied:

“Well their loss is our gain [chuckling]… you could be the dark horse” – this came as quite a shock to me – another comment that will probably make some online coverage for BGT!

However, after he’d realised what he had said (and probably after getting a telling-off from his bosses through his earpiece), he butted through Ant and Dec and corrected the matter with: “Even though I was teasing the show, the Universal Records were very kind to release him from his contract and let us have him, so thank you very much”.

You can never really know what is planned by the TV show’s company [SyCo] or what isn’t. One thing that surprised and somewhat entertained the nation was the release of an old sex tape made by Tulisa. This was allegedly released by her ex-boyfriend, MC Ultra to ruin her reputation and bring down her career. To spring a bigger surprise to everyone was her public reply “Tulisa Talks” via YouTube. But I think the icing on the cake was her song which was released just few days called, “Forgive me” which has the lyrics of “Forgive me for what I have done, cos I’m young, yeah I’m young”. She can’t even respond by saying she made the song and video in those few days because they were recorded months before – hmmmm.

The Daily Mail has written an excellent story about how this timing is almost so coincidental that it’s a PR stunt – and not a subtle one at that. Could this be one of SyCo’s many underground activities to gain publicity that didn’t go down so well?

Facebook Buying Instagram; What Could It Mean for Us?

imageIn the last month it was announced that Facebook will be buying Instagram for a total of $1 billion – this includes $300 million cash and 23 million Facebook market shares to the Photo sharing App. In the S-1 statement, Facebook stated that it has 901 million active users every month with 300 million photos uploaded per day.

This seems like a lot of photo activity already – so what benefit will they gain from buying a Photo Sharing App for such a high price when it doesn’t even gain any revenue?

While PRs and Marketers ride on the social media train with no idea of its destination, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds for us all.

From Facebook’s perspective

The day after Facebook announced its acquisition, Instagram’s downloads hit 5 million in 6 days. The acquisition was splashed all over Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, TV and through online commentators. The publicity gained from this drove Instagram to the #1 App on the iTunes App store for the first time in two years. Instagram is “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family” – online commentator, Om Malik describes it as “a platform built on emotion. It created not a social network, but instead built a beautiful social platform of shared experiences. Facebook and Instagram are two distinct companies with two distinct personalities. Instagram has what Facebook craves – a passionate community.”

I don’t have Instagram myself (due to my incompetent Blackberry Curve!) but I know that the App allows you to take photos of everyday objects/ events, beautify them to your emotion and portray your interpretation of the photo. Following this addictive phenomenon, photo sharing has plunged to the top end of social activity.

While you may think that Facebook couldn’t get any larger, Mark Zuckerberg stated that he acquired Instagram in order to encourage more mobile engagement with the social media site. Instagram users can only share their photos through their mobile, whereas Facebook is much more accessible as a whole through the computer.

In addition to this, Facebook will gain 27 million users and acquire Instagram’s six talented employees. Kevin Systrom was once offered a job by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 before Facebook became such a big hit. Now he can revel in a hefty $400 million and still work for the world’s largest networking giant a few years later than planned. With these new 27 million users and 6 of the most technically talented employees, it could be an interesting ride for Facebook. One thing that could be an obstacle is that fact that Facebook still hasn’t found any proven ways to successfully integrate mobile adverts for the site. So this substantial investment may seem risky if it doesn’t provide a return on investment through the increase in paying advertisements.

Did Facebook buy the App so that its competitors couldn’t do so? Who knows – Twitter were also secretly bidding for Instagram so it may have been inevitable that it was bought out. Did Instagram sell too soon? A lot of online commentators appreciate it’s differentiation to Facebook and Twitter and think it could have turned into a successful social networking site in its own right. However, in my opinion, it’s a model could be copied easily. The photo sharing boom may also slow down, with an increase on – for example – music sharing. This is how Facebook evolved from a mass in simple text statuses into a vast amount of photo shares.

Maybe DrawSomething could be next for Facebook?

What does it mean for us PRs and Marketers?

If Facebook is buying into soul then this can show true qualitative market data for businesses – it will help them learn how they can visually appeal to their audience and understand what effects/styles attract them best. By using Instagram for uploading pictures of products, for example, its beautifications can add emotion and meaning to the photo – engaging with the audience and boosting that emotional appeal of a brand or product.

Instead of distributing press releases, or tweets with hyperlinks that barely get a look into, what could be more effective is the use of visual and photography. Remember the saying “a picture tells a thousand words?” – it would be effortless for the respondent to engage with, and if they like it because it represents their emotions then they’re likely to share this too, reaching out to a wider community.

Whatever happens on this train journey, marketers and PRs have expanded their online reach with no extra effort due to Mark Zuckerberg – this will only prove effective if they can maintain Instagram’s authenticity that its users love so much.

“This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together” Mark Zuckerberg.