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The Prohibition Seven Days of Social

3256859352_cf35412c5f_zFast moving, always adapting and often controversial, social media is an area where many of us have divided opinions. We like to keep our ear to the ground in the social media world, and as the week comes to an end, we’ve put together a few of our favourite pieces of social media content from around the web that you might not have spotted.

 

  1. “Can we auto correct humanity?”
    by Prince Ea (@PrinceEa)
    By far the biggest hitting and most shared piece of social media content of this week (over three million YouTube views) saw musician and rapper Prince Ea take to the camera in a thought provoking video, assessing how social media and modern technologies are leaving us less connected with our ‘friends’ than ever before.
  1. “ I didn’t actually wake up like this (and other Instagram confessions)
    by Amelia Olson
    We’re dubbed the ‘selfie generation’, but are the self facing snaps just an expression of vanity? In this article, Amelia Olson argues that selfies are not a self-obsessed or narcissistic expression, but that Instagram and other social media platforms that allow us to adjust our appearance through brightening effects and filters only contribute to our appearance insecurities. As does the marketing of makeup brands to encourage the public to look ‘photo/TV ready’.
  1. Fortune’s 55 most influential women on Twitter”
    by Caroline Fairchild (@CFair1)
    Social media is a powerful tool, especially for influencers, and with Twitter being the network of choice for some of the most powerful leaders in government, business and industry throughout the world, maintaining a strong Twitter presence has never been more important. If you’re looking for key female influencers to follow on the network, this is Fortune’s definitive guide to the 55 most influential women on Twitter
  1. “23 Tools and Resources to Create Images for Social Media”
    by Kevan Lee (@kevanlee)
    Social Media is all about engagement, especially when it comes to managing a community for a brand or business. Sharing interesting and engaging graphics is proven, especially on Facebook, to drive reach and increase your audience. However, the success of a post often depends on the make-up and design of an image. This week, our fourth piece of social media content provides one of the most the definitive guides available when it comes to social media image resources.
  1. Teens are officially over Facebook
    by Caitlin Dewey (@caitlindewey)
    We all know the Facebook story, created in a university dorm room, coming from nowhere to take the social media mantel from MySpace and within ten years, it’s arguably the most renowned business in the world. We all love to forecast the future of the most prevalent social network, and in this article, the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey looks into the trend for teenagers to stray from the site, in search of more engaging content, from the likes of (Facebook owned) Instagram.
  1. 5 Ways to Use Metrics to Improve Your Social Media Marketing
    by Debra Eckerling (@WriteOnOnline)
    Gone are the days when a brand’s social media absence could be glossed over. In the modern, online age, it’s expected that a reputable brand will possess an engaging online presence. With social media marketing being as important as ever, and most if not all brands now taking on newer and more innovative social accounts, it’s important to keep track of those important metrics that showcase just how effective your presence online is.
  1. YouAreWhatYouLike: Find out what algorithms can tell about you based on your Facebook account.
    by Jennifer Golbeck (@jengolbeck)
    Social media users now number more than 1.4 billion—more than half of the Earth’s Internet-using population. We share a lot of information on social media, but it turns out we are sharing far more than we think. Seemingly innocuous information, when analyzed against tens of thousands of other profiles, can reveal secrets you never intended to share.

 

Photocredit: CC image from Rosaura Ochoa via flickr.

Violation of Google’s Guidelines Will Result in Damaged PageRank

Google’s latest announcement has made it official that selling page links and including paid-for placements on your blog can and will damage your PageRank. In the announcement Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam stated that ‘selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.’ Such action has been taken out recently on the florist giant Interflora for breaking Search Engine Optimisation guidelines by manipulating links to improve its PageRank. Penalisation of Interflora is the latest proof that even the largest brands are not immune to Google’s rules and regulations. Currently as punishment Interflora doesn’t show up on Google for the majority of it’s search terms, a huge disaster for the brand with Mother’s Day fast approaching. The highest Interflora appeared was on page 2 of a Google search, but mainly Interflora was non-existent. The damages to the brand could value at millions worth of pounds. Matt Cutts has also posted on his own personal blog about PageRank penalties and selling links. Replying to the frequently asked question of ‘Why has my PageRank gone down?’ Matt answered ‘the drop in Toolbar PageRank is an indicator of the decrease in our trust of the site.’ Google isn’t against paid advertisements, it actually supports the practise but they are asking for such links to be disclosed to search engines.  Sites should be judged on their content and influence for SEO not their bank account. What does this mean for PR? Whilst it will upset many people, Google’s announcement will help to ensure that online public relations prioritises quality content over simple and easy paid-for placements and links. Therefore Google is helping to ensure that public relations online is practised ethically. Blogging is a way of using your online freedom to express your opinion and interests, add value and engage in discussions. Blogging on your personal blog, on behalf of a company, just because they are paying you an attractive sum, I believe, totally defeats the object of blogging in the first place. Don’t get me wrong advertorials (which have been around for decades in PR) and articles that clearly show they are being sponsored to review a product are still effective ways to position a brand. It’s the articles that have been paid for that include brand names and links to a website that don’t make it totally clear that are misleading. What do you think? This is a guest post from Lara Busch you can follow her on Twitter.

The 10 Best April Fools Stunts

Google
Regular pranksters Google certainly did not disappoint this year! Now I could probably write a whole post purely on Google’s April Fools stunts from yesterday, but I’ll cut to the chase:

Google Nose: First up is Google Nose, as its name implies, the service lets you search to find out what your queries smell like. You make think that only an idiot would believe it, but after reading some long technical words, many of us must have pulled our screens a little closer and had a sniff!

Google Maps Treasure Mode: Google created a treasure map mode on Google Maps along with a video announcement telling us that the ‘Google Maps Street View team’ have found a treasure map belonging to an infamous pirate. They said the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols which you are tasked with decoding.

Gmail Blue: This one is said to be a dig at Microsoft’s future Windows 8 revamp, also to be named Blue. Google created an almost two minute long video explaining the new technology that is going into their new Gmail design, only to find out at the end, that they just coloured everything blue!

Google seemed to have a bottom-less budget in their marketing and PR department this year. They also made up pranks with Google+, Australian Google Street View, Google Enterprise and…

…YouTube
YouTube took to their blog and posted a video to tell us that their site was set up merely as a way to find the best online video in the world. The video claimed that they had enough footage to end the competition and close down the page.

Bing
If you happened to be on Bing.com yesterday (which I’m sure you didn’t), you would have got a shock. The site completely changed how it looked if you typed “google” in the rival search engine. It was still regular Bing under the surface but the layout was a copy of Google’s. And just for an extra dig, you could either press the “Search” or the hilarious “I’m Feeling Confused” button instead.

Twitter
Yesterday morning Twitter announced it will no longer allow the use of vowels in tweets. The social networking site said that by eliminating vowels, they are helping tweeters to a “more efficient, and ‘dense’ form of communication.” And if you really can’t live in a world without vowels, Twttr (as it renamed itself) will allow you to tweet A, E, I, O and U for the small fee of $5 a month.

Sony Animalia
Sony had us all laughing with a video telling us they are releasing a new “Animalia” line of products for your tech product-starved pets. Because apparently your hamsters needs a good beat whilst on their exercise wheels and your cat would love some headphones to block humans out!

Virgin Atlantic Glass Bottom Plane
The folks at Virgin Atlantic Airways can never pass up an April Fools. This year they took to Richard Branson’s blog to reveal a glass-bottom airplane supposedly made so we can “appreciate the beauty of the British landscape” whilst flying!

BMW Pram
BMW unveiled a new product yesterday, a pram! Or should I say ‘the limited edition BMW P.R.A.M. (Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile).’  Available in Princess Pink or Royal Blue, the soft-top convertible has been designed especially for the arrival of the new Royal baby.

The Metro
I won’t deny it, this April fool even got me! The Metro published a roundup of stunts from yesterday such as The Sun joking that the Angel of the North will be renamed ‘Cheryl Cole’ and the Guardian trying to fool us that scientist have bred rabbits with human ears. Only when you get to the end do you realise they were all completely made up!

Sacla Italia
Italian food brand Sacla added a touch of tech to its April Fool’s joke with the announcement of its latest product, ‘Twitteroni pasta – Eat what you tweet’. Rather like tinned alphabet spaghetti, Twitteroni pasta is shaped into letters, but also includes hash tags and the @ symbol.

The Huffington Post
The latest addition to the London skyline became the world’s best thrill-ride according to The Huffington Post yesterday when they unveiled ‘The Shlide’ – the helter-skelter style slide around Europe’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard.

 

What was your favourite April fool’s stunt from yesterday? Is there anything I’ve missed?

Are we giving away FREE private information online?

Google services may seem to be free however recent research shows that our personal information is set to be worth up to $5,000 a year!

Screengrab from RT.comAccording to the Colin and Collin report users of sites like Facebook and Google are classified as unpaid labourers. Essentially the report suggests that the amount of time we spend updating our status and uploading personal information, all goes towards the use of free advertising benefiting sites like Google. This ‘free’ service comes at a price, in other words we are exchanging free personal information for a free service.

The new privacy settings allow the integration of Google’s services to control how our personal data is handled and shared without our knowledge. Google proceed to carry on using our information by tracking and collecting cookies and gathering data on online activities of web users. This information assists them to provide more targeted advertising to those individuals. Essentially everyone will have their own customised browsing page of Google’s recommendations according to previous sites visited. This may seem like they are making life easier for us however, this concept has brought with it a fundamental error in the system. The privacy intrusion has resulted in people finding out surprise engagements and secret events. Due to the personal data tracking, individuals can find display ads based on the sites previously visited by their partners or friends. This interference is not only a concern for ruining secret events, but a growing worry as to how much Google will know on each individual. Google persists by saying that no personal data is shared or used, however what is and isn’t personal and who decides this?

All these concerns and questions has led to the latest privacy concerns in the UK after Google have allegedly been secretly tracking users habits and data of IPhone users. The legal action comes just months after Google was fined in the US over a privacy breach. The privacy concerns erupted after at least 10 British IPhone users started to take legal action against Google for personal information tracking on their phones. “An estimated 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple‘s security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour”. The significant consequence of Google’s actions is not yet clear, but the direction they are taking is clear to be costing them more than $5,000.

The only way of opting out of this service and ensuring your information is kept private is to not use the browser. But will that be possible as Google is the largest web browser in the world?

What is Google up to? Let me know what you think in our comments?

Update your status and risk being deemed a criminal…

If we have a Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or Google plus accounts, are we instantly deemed criminals?

Following a report from the Guardian.co.uk this could now be the case….

The report was recently carried out by the Government’s chief scientist and highlighted that those of the general public, who are expressing their daily lives online in many different platforms, could be deemed as suspicious individuals who could potentially be stirring up rises such as the London riots.

The report also stated that online communities are isolating and alienating the elderly societies of our country. Does this mean that we have become so involved in our online communities that the reality of real life beyond the computer and the social networks have merged to become one? It seems like the Government have deemed this to be the case. It has suggested that over the next decade our personal identities will undergo, “increasingly dynamic and volatile changes.” The revolution of social media has truly began a dictation of our lives, it seems that Governments have taken notice to the control it posses over us as individuals, more than just a marketing technique, social media has become a part of our everyday lives.

I can’t personally argue with this statement either, I can call myself a little bit of an online addict working with the Prohibition PR team. The first thing I do in the morning….. check the tweets, update a status (if I have anything interesting to say), send an email, pin something on a board on Pinterest and check the latest headlines, all from my iPhone and all with a social element.

The report even suggested that those who don’t have much of a social presence in ‘reality’ can for the first time create their individual personality and express it through social media by connecting with not just the people they actually know, but people all around the globe. It is being deemed the rise of “hyper-connectivity” in which we are all becoming more socially connected online via our Smartphones. So why are those with many different online profiles being deemed suspicious?

The report suggested that, “the idea that there is only a single identity is a fallacy now,” with so many different online social platforms, we have the opportunity to be as many different personas as we choose in order to adapt to the people we are ‘talking’ to. With this comes the opportunity to create more social uprisings in reality such as the London Riots of summer 2011. Social media has given individuals a voice to speak to millions of people on a global scale and send messages that can potentially ruin brands, ideas and people. It has also created a generation divide between the old and the young. Those brought up and into the digital age are using the online world as their key source of communication, and those of the older generation who simply don’t have a clue are being left behind.

However, in my opinion that is just how the world evolves, and this time round we are evolving with social media, it will inevitably create divides between generations. It has also become a choice that everyone has made to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and following these choices we become responsible for the information we choose to put out to the world, it is simply the way we choose to communicate with our fellow peers. The days of letter writing have died and even newspapers are disappearing as we can find all our sources online, but who says the older generation can’t use this method of communication too?

In order to prevent distancing themselves further from the ever changing world they may have to take the leap into the online revolution and adapt as we always must, because simply at the end of the day, the future won’t slow down for people to catch up. What we can’t fail to ignore is that social media has given people the opportunity to explore their identities more fully, the shy and the recluse have found a form of expression and a way to communicate with others, to me, there is something quite remarkable about that. Social media is the future, it won’t stop growing and we must embrace it, not fear it.

The PR benefits of Google Hangouts

We are all aware of the Skype and FaceBook video call, but the latest of social networking platformsGoogle+ has recently released its own version of video calling “Google Hangouts“.

Facebook’s video calling is only one-to-one calling, with limits on the other activity that you can do on the site once on a call, and on Skype you have to be a paying user to use group video chat. However with Google Hangouts the video chats are free, and up to 10 people can take part, with lots of different apps available (free) to have fun with during your calls, from poker to quizzes.

For purely social uses hangouts are great, they are free and simple to use, you just need to have a Google+ account (is it time to really jump on the Google+ bandwagon?). Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has written a great piece, that really gets into the social benefits of Google hangouts, compared to the other options available.

As well as the personal benefits of hangouts the option to stream your session live on YouTube, personal websites and blogs (all at the same time) means that Google Hangouts has got some great possibilities for small businesses. At this stage live hangouts are being tested by large corporations and organisations. From live hangouts with President Obama to live gigs the possibilities with hangouts are endless; and from a PR and social media point of view this could be a really interesting channel to get your message across.

For the world of PR, this could mean live interviews with CEO’s and key spokespeople from your clients, live product reviews from bloggers all around the world, live instruction sessions showing customers how to use clever products, constant streaming of shops, businesses, and events that people all around the world can join in with. Google hangouts could also really help with crisis management, as you will have the ability to reach your public almost immediately and most importantly affordably.

With Google Hangouts in its infancy it will be interesting to see how it is going to be adapted and utilised by business, especially in the PR world.

Has anyone used Google hangouts already? It would be great to hear what you thought of it.


Five PR Tips for Google+ Brand Pages

When Google+ first launched, it was limited to only personal accounts, restricting businesses from creating Google+ profiles. However, Google+ Pages are now available for personal and business use alike. The service is rather similar to Facebook in concept, being a social media site, but it is a bit more restrictive. For example, you cannot contact someone who has not already added you to their circle. That complicates advertising and marketing, but it does not lessen the importance of creating a Google+ Page. Once you get your Google+ up and running, here are some PR tips to make it worth your while.

  1. Create a Redirect or Shortened URL for Your Page
    Right now, Google+ Page web addresses are horribly ugly. With Facebook and Twitter you can create a reasonably shorted URL that people can use to visit your profile; on Google+ it is plus.google.com/ followed by a long string of random numbers and letters. There are a variety of free services that can shorten a URL for you, or you can simply create a redirect link on your domain. Whatever method you chose, be sure to make your Google+ Page URL something that people can easily remember.
  2. Link to Your Google+ Page
    While Google+ Pages limit you to communicating only with people who have added you to your circle, you have no such limitations on your website, Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to add links to your Google+ Page on all of your sites and social networking accounts to help people find your page and be aware that you have one. Google suggests that you put your Google+ badge on all of your sites, which takes visitors directly to your Google+ Page, allowing them to add you to their circle.
  3. Put Content On Your Page
    Driving visitors to your Google+ Page doesn’t accomplish much if you don’t have any information on the page, or if it simply is a link back to your website. Your effort should be to create a page that will cause people to want to add you to their circle. Once you are in someone’s circle, you have officially opened the lines of communication on Google+. This space is also an excellent advertising board, allowing you to put up information about new products and services or any sales or specials that are going on.
  4. Communicate with People Who Have Added You to Their Circle
    Once people begin to add you to their circle, start taking advantage of it. Those circle additions are hard won prizes, so be sure to use them to promote your company. This can involve updating people of additions to your Google+ Page, letting them know when new content is added to your website or even letting people know about contests you are offering. The advantage of having a contact list based on people who have added you to their circle is you know they have some sort of interest in you, or they would not have added you.
  5. Put Someone In Charge of Your Google+ Page
    If you have a social networking department, you’ve probably already done this, but be sure to assign a person or department (or digital PR Agency) to keeping up your Google+ Page. You’ll want to keep it updated and take advantage of marketing options when people add you to their circle, but you also want to be sure to respond to feedback sent to your Google+ account. People are frequently using social media sites to voice concerns or kudos to companies; be sure to read and respond to yours because ignoring social media communications is poor customer service.

Sam is an Internet marketer who is in charge of his company’s social media monitoring and he is always on the lookout for new tools to help him do his job more efficiently.

Google + brands = ?

The June launch of Google+ was met with a mixture of intrigue and bemusement. Intrigue because social media has become such a phenomenon in the second decade of the 21st Century that anything new inevitably provokes curiosity. Bemusement for much the same reason – in an online world which offers Facebook and Twitter, who needs a third mass market social network?

Of course Google+ is not the search giant’s first venture into social media. 2010 saw the launch of its previous attempt – Google Buzz – but this was severely criticised at launch for lax default privacy settings. In particular, users’ most frequent Gmail contacts were openly displayed on their profile pages. Although such security holes were later plugged, Buzz never recovered from the bad publicity and last month, Google announced the discontinuation of the service.

To date, Google+ has fared better and after a wobbly exit from an invitation-only beta status, this brand new and shiny social network is open to all. For those who spend their social media lives bouncing giddily between Facebook and Twitter, Google+ still excites little interest, but in spite of widespread indifference, a modest but growing user base has begun to develop. Google+ offers some advantages – a much less cluttered interface, as well as an innovative ‘circles’ feature for easy contact and friend tracking, but the site is still a very long way from competing with Facebook’s global audience.

Google’s latest addition to the network is Google+ Pages, their answer to Facebook’s feature of the same name. Pages allow brands, companies and organisations to establish a promotional presence on the network and were unveiled earlier this month to a decidedly mixed reaction.

More positive commentators have hailed the intriguing innovations available in Pages, including:

  • *The ability to add a brand page to your Google+ circles straight from a search results page.
  • *Access to ‘hangouts’ (live audio/ video chats) – providing an excellent way for brands to talk directly to their fans on Google+.
  • *The ability to place followers of a particular brand page into different categories and share different content with each. (Of course, the latter option depends on the Google+ Circles function).

But most of the reaction has centred on the things Google+ brand pages cannot do. There is, for example, no ability for more than one person to administer a page, and extraordinarily for Google, no analytics are available. Custom URLs are not available, and admins cannot run contests or promotions.

Respected tech journalist Robert Scoble highlights the many difficulties that will be faced by large companies trying to maintain brand pages when only a single member of staff can administer them. Scoble is so unhappy with Google+ brand pages in their current form he delivers the unambiguous verdict: “I wish I’d never heard of them”, adding “Google, did you really think this through?”

No doubt Google+ brand pages will evolve and develop over time. But there is something very Google about the launch. The world’s premier search engine has so much power and so much money that it can get away with half-finished product launches that would cripple a less influential firm and kill a start-up. They know full well that the power of the Google brand will draw people to brand pages whatever their shortcomings. As website Search Engine Watch put it: “Google Brand Pages Lacking, But You’ll Make One Anyway”.