Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Social Media Mullet: What Would Philosophers Think of Social Media?

Make Me Social’s Phil Grech named his blog The Social Media Mullet because, like the hairstyle, it will discuss the fusion of “business” and “casual” under the banner of online communications.

So, what would Sartre, Bentham, Adorno and Hegel really think of Social Media?

That’s a good question, but first, I want to explain something else.

As a philosophy major (and ahem, president of the philosophy club) at Flagler College, I’m often asked, “Why did you choose to major in philosophy?”

I get it. “What can you do with a philosophy degree” is the thought behind that question. My typical answer is that studying philosophy helps you understand yourself and others better, and helps you make better decisions in life. Since life is short and inherently ephemeral, making beneficial, well-informed decisions should be a priority. I’ve been wrong a lot in life, so critical thinking helps me avoid that in the future. Plus, it helps me appeal to nobler, more virtuous acts.

Another benefit of studying philosophy is having a better understanding of Social Media. I know, it sounds ludicrous, but any way a person can understand Social Media can help me better determine the overall purpose and predict the future of where Social Media is heading. We’re experts in Social Media here at Make Me Social, and somehow, understanding self-differentiating unity and the principium individuations greatly assist me in that.

That being said, over the next several posts, I would like to talk about how different philosophers would view Social Media based on their published perspectives and ideas (I understand philosophy isn’t most people’s idea of leisure reading, so before you languish in fear of death by boredom, I promise to make this fun).

Social Media and Sartre’s Existentialism

Let’s start with existentialism. Does social networking have an existential existence? I’m saying yes. But wait – what is existentialism anyway? I’ve always been fond of Sartre’s simple definition: “Existentialism means that existence precedes essence.” So what does that mean? Here’s an example:

A fork’s essence precedes its existence. When the fork was created, it had a design and purpose in mind, but as humans, our existence precedes our essence. First we are created, and then we have to define ourselves and give ourselves purpose and identity. Fun stuff, huh?

Social networking was created and then we gave it meaning. In other words, existence precedes status updates. We give sites like Facebook and Twitter purpose and identity and continue to redefine those purposes. A perfect example is the revolts in Egypt who used them to gain worldwide attention and support in their efforts.

Sartre was noted for saying, “We are condemned to be free,” but if he was still alive, his next sentence may have been, “We are also condemned to make status updates.”

In our next post, we will talk about Social Media Transparency and Bentham’s Panopticon (or, “Why Jeremy Bentham Would Be a Horrible Social Media CEO”)

——–

Phil Grech is a Content Manager for Make Me Social. He published his first book, “Don’t Waste Your Hands”, in 2009. He studied English and Philosophy at Flagler College. In his spare time, he reads, works out, gardens and searches for good conversation.

Dear Graduates: Don’t Despair, Share!

A wise man once said, “Who am I? Sim Simma.

So who are you, sim simma? What is your role in the world? If you’ve recently graduated from college, you’ve likely spent hours trying to figure out the answer to that question. You’ve joined the clubs, played on sports teams, gone to school, danced in recitals, bought the t-shirts, worn the bracelets, and run the 5K’s. Your walls are covered in faded articles highlighting your childhood achievements and your parents still pop in the VHS tape of your first grade play (big ups to Peter Rabbit!) and coo about your potential.

You were supposed to find your passion, strike it rich and cure cancer…all before you turned 30. And then you graduated from college. And moved back home. And sat on the couch watching your first grade play with your parents, wondering where it all went wrong.

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote about the backwards system that produced this generation of floaters, searching aimlessly for their identities amidst a ruined economy. He wrote that, “Most will spend a decade wandering from job to job and clique to clique, searching for a role.” This is a group of people who can write 160 characters that sum up their entire selves and yet they can’t seem to find roles and identities in “real life.” But are they searching for roles or searching for jobs?

For the first time in a long time, we’ve got a generation of people who probably won’t be able to define themselves by their careers. Success (being on MTV Cribs) is no longer guaranteed or even expected. It has become perfectly acceptable for graduates to return home to hang their college diplomas on the wall, right next to the hand drawn turkeys from 1995.

And perhaps that’s why social media has become so important. People who are searching for themselves have fluid, flexible platforms where they can define themselves by their experiences, many of which are shared across these same social channels. They can easily reach out to people going through similar struggles and find hope in the success of their peers.

This group won’t spend the next decade wandering. They’ll spend it sharing.

______________________________________________________________

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys updating her Facebook “about me” to more accurately reflect her true self. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

Dear Graduates: Don’t Despair, Share!

A wise man once said, “Who am I? Sim Simma.

So who are you, sim simma? What is your role in the world? If you’ve recently graduated from college, you’ve likely spent hours trying to figure out the answer to that question. You’ve joined the clubs, played on sports teams, gone to school, danced in recitals, bought the t-shirts, worn the bracelets, and run the 5K’s. Your walls are covered in faded articles highlighting your childhood achievements and your parents still pop in the VHS tape of your first grade play (big ups to Peter Rabbit!) and coo about your potential.

You were supposed to find your passion, strike it rich and cure cancer…all before you turned 30. And then you graduated from college. And moved back home. And sat on the couch watching your first grade play with your parents, wondering where it all went wrong.

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote about the backwards system that produced this generation of floaters, searching aimlessly for their identities amidst a ruined economy. He wrote that, “Most will spend a decade wandering from job to job and clique to clique, searching for a role.” This is a group of people who can write 160 characters that sum up their entire selves and yet they can’t seem to find roles and identities in “real life.” But are they searching for roles or searching for jobs?

For the first time in a long time, we’ve got a generation of people who probably won’t be able to define themselves by their careers. Success (being on MTV Cribs) is no longer guaranteed or even expected. It has become perfectly acceptable for graduates to return home to hang their college diplomas on the wall, right next to the hand drawn turkeys from 1995.

And perhaps that’s why social media has become so important. People who are searching for themselves have fluid, flexible platforms where they can define themselves by their experiences, many of which are shared across these same social channels. They can easily reach out to people going through similar struggles and find hope in the success of their peers.

This group won’t spend the next decade wandering. They’ll spend it sharing.

______________________________________________________________

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys updating her Facebook “about me” to more accurately reflect her true self. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

Socially Made – Gauging Influence

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Influence. It is what everyone using social media for professional purposes is looking to exert, as well as measure for themselves and their competitors. But how can this statistic be obtained?

In March, the New York Times Magazine, in collaboration with Twitalyzer, wrote a piece on the differences between “being followed” and “being influential” while using the popular micro-blogging site. The Influence Index was developed to count the number of times somebody’s Twitter name is mentioned by other users (including retweets) with the idea being that influence isn’t merely about who is talking on Twitter, but who is affecting the conversation either directly or indirectly.

I admit, I was on board. MSNBC ran a segment promoting the article and describing the methodology. I was enthralled. I couldn’t wait to read it. They listed some of the names that made their list, some of which were obvious (President Obama was placed at 7) and others surprising (the only person higher on the Influence Index than veteran wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was Brazilian comedian Rafinha Bastos).

Then, a couple weeks later, I read a single tweet that made me rethink my opinion on this analytic:

“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

I didn’t read this tweet in real-time because I’m not connected to the IT Consultant that posted it, nor are a majority of the 175 million Twitter pages that exist. It offered no trending topics (at the time) and didn’t have a hashtag in it. Yet, this note is the first known public report of one of the most important pieces of news of the decade.

Now, this tweet alone shouldn’t be considered influential (newsworthy, but not influential). However, it was the spark that made me ask questions. I define influential as providing, sharing or being something that has lasting, real world relevance. I don’t define it as a statement that is thought about and perhaps forwarded, but then quickly forgotten about and replaced with the next statement (the difference between the two is similar to arguments Chris Rock makes in his bit about the difference between wealth and just being rich).

My mainstream benchmark for influence is the Oprah Book Club. She turned writers into authors with a simple nod of approval. She made careers. But can influence over social media be measured like this? Not everyone is selling or recommending something, so how can those be properly matched against those that are? Some are able to say something funny that is retweeted, but can laughing at something be considered on the same plane of influence as opinions on a controversial issue?

Among the problems I have with what I know of the Influence Index formula are:

  • The inherent bias that exists towards celebrities. Those with some of the highest marks use Twitter as a supplement to their mainstream communications strategy, which provides them with an existing baseline of influence. A regular individual can’t compete with that, despite being unknowingly privy to Seal Team Six’s next mission. This leads to my next point, which is….
  • Shouldn’t there be a longer timeline to determine influence properly? Influence can’t be determined in the present. I read posts on social media all day, but if asked to recite what I remember of posts from a month ago, only a few come to mind. Aren’t those the truly influential ones? Information shared vs. potential or useful practice of that information: That is a statistic much harder to calculate.
  • All of the individuals mentioned on the list are, in fact, individuals. Organizations also exist on Twitter and have large followings. Also, I would also argue that “Twitter” as an influencer should be ranked with this group.

The Influence Index is a very relevant statistic. It does calculate an individual or group’s ability to find the right mix of saturation and resonance, and this can be useful knowledge to have and develop a strategy around. However, attaining true influence includes both shaping thoughts and changing opinions, which many of these individuals do not achieve or even necessarily aim for. For this reason the New York Times Magazine / Twitalyzer statistic should be recognized, but it should also be renamed.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Social Networking 2.0?

One of the most important aspects of our post last week about uploading photos to Twitter was the fact that all users will still own the copyrights to their uploaded content. Everyday, millions of users create valuable content which is hosted and shared on major social networking sites such as Facebook, Youtube, and Flickr. However, a little known fact is that all of the content a user uploads to these applications is subject to the whims of the company’s desire. This issue is being used as the catalyst to develop the next wave of social media channels.

For example, a Singapore-based start-up, MyCube, is touting itself as the first ever social exchange where users own, control, and monetize their digital lives. MyCube claims it will be free to use, and while currently in private beta, plans to go live in the next few months.

According to the company’s CEO, Johan Stael von Holstein, MyCube offers the following advantages over other social media sites:

  • The ability to completely own all of the digital content you create and share on the internet.
  • The ability to monetize your content by charging others through a system of nano- payments.
  • The ability to segment your contacts based on your relation with them (best friend, friend, acquaintance, friend of a friend etc.)

MyCube describes itself as a “digital life management tool” where some will use it primarily as a social networking site and others as a publishing tool. Fundamentally, the site will look and feel like Facebook.

More than its added features, MyCube is on a mission. They have beef with other social media sites that not only take control of your content, but profit from it. As far as Stael von Holstein is concerned, it is stealing. He warns, “a lot of people don’t realize, but the content they put on existing social networks no longer belongs to them – all those pictures, contact details and discussions belong to the social network. If they ban you from their service, all those pictures, contacts, email exchanges are lost forever.”

If MyCube does not sell your data to advertisers, how does it make any money? Well, for any financial transactions on the site, 70% goes to the content generator, and 30% goes to MyCube. “We have the same deal as Facebook has with Zynga,” says Staël von Holstein, “but we have it with everybody, with everyone who creates value.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx0Y1LECLhk]

Check it out at MyCube.com and tell us what you think. Does MyCube have a chance in the already overcrowded social media industry?

Flash Mob Mentality: An Introduction

There are times when we are individuals and there are times where we are part of something bigger.

Then there are the times when we are in a seemingly-impromptu group of people, dancing in unison in a public place for no apparent reason. For those in this third classification, we are known as a Flash Mob

In the realm of social media, the concept of Flash Mobs can only be defined as viral video catnip. The first one (as we know them) was created in Manhattan in May 2003, and since then, there have been scattered occurrences that have steadily increased in frequency, complexity and popularity, and have included pretend gun fights, singing, people posing as statues, and much, much more..

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDNOB6TnHSI?rel=0]

But, what is their point? Why do they happen? These are good questions, and the answer is simple: Because we can.

Oh, did I just say “we”? Yes. Definitely just said “we”. I happen to be a fan of Flash Mobs, and have even helped create a few. I won’t be giving details about where or when these have taken place because that’s part of the fun. Also, while not having broken any laws, there are inevitably people who frown upon disruptive behavior (and angry e-mails from them might ruin my day). I can say unequivocally that the reasons I have done this in the past was not for the recognition. It was a challenge. It was fun, secretive, and powerful. I could organize large groups of like-minded people without ever having met or spoken to them. The power of social media is enough to give anyone a bit of a rush.

In this series of posts, I will walk you through the process of developing a Flash Mob, and cover topics such as Why I decided to do it; Creating the idea; Organizing the people; The Preparation; The Execution; and The Feedback. The process is quite interesting as well as exciting.

Now, while I want this series to be a fascinating look at a cultural phenomenon, compiled from first-hand knowledge, I also hope to convey something much greater, a message: social media can be a mechanism to do big things.

As a member of Make Me Social, which uses social media as tool for branding businesses, I find that many of the same principals I used in organizing Flash Mobs are used for marketing. Both inspire action and encourage people to do something different.

—–

Kerri Perkins is an Account Coordinator with Make Me Social.

A Tweet is Worth a 1000 Words

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmB15ER3LUQ&feature=youtu.be]

In case you missed Twitter’s recent announcement, the world’s most popular micro-blogging site will now allow users to upload photos and video directly to their Twitter feeds.  The announcement came on June 1st and CEO Dick Costolo stated the “native photosharing experience will be rolled out to 100% of users over the next couple of weeks.”  The new feature will allow users the ability to add hashtags to the photos and videos, which will create real time, searchable albums. Photobucket.com will host the new service, and all users will still own the copyrights to their uploaded content.

Why You Should Care

Twitter tracks what happens in the world as it happens. It played a central role in major social uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia by giving ordinary citizens the power to easily communicate and organize.  It also was the first media outlet to document breaking news such as the earthquake in Japan and Seal Team 6’s raid on Osama bin Laden. Twitter’s impact on how we relay and receive information has been palpable.

Now, imagine that instead of reading a 140-character message about an earthquake, you saw a picture of it. Instead of describing government brutality you shared an image of it.  Think of “Tank Man” – the protestor at Tiananmen Square who stood blocking the advance of Chinese tanks and the impact it had on shaping world politics.  Now, imagine if that photo was shared in real time, was searchable, and had the potential to spread to millions of users within hours.

Twitter’s new photo and video sharing feature will redefine how we share and interact with events that occur in our lives. From documenting major world events to sharing a new band at your favorite local bar, Twitter will keep us connected to a further degree.

How much impact do you think Twitter’s new features will be?  If you do not use Twitter, are these new features enough to get you interested?

In Praise of Pockets

When was the last time that you thought about your pocket? We have pocket protectors, pocket squares, pocket watches and pocket sized Bibles. Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, Polly Pocket, and a pocket full of sunshine (well, at least, I’ve gotta pocket, gotta pocket full of sunshine). Your pocket is the most important part of your outfit and yet we rarely consider it when getting dressed.

The other day, while foot tapping my way across Pandora, I heard the lyric, “we are the second, you’re minutes behind.” Being the social media “geek-ling” that I am, I paused the player and sat pondering the significance of that statement in an uber-connected world. I decided that I needed to share my thoughts and instinctively reached into my pocket.

Small, discrete and infinitely useful, the pocket is the keeper of the communication equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife  – our smart phones. In order to be ahead of the curve you need to be able to send and receive information quickly, without restrictions. Back in the Dark Ages (1990’s) we would be tethered to our desks, spending hours stuffed into cold, dark cubicles, waiting for breaking news. Now, our pockets play gallant host to the mobile devices that keep us…mobile.

To adapt an old adage, “keep your mobile device close, and your sim card closer.” Without our perfectly crafted pockets, we would have to resort to alternative ways to transport our phones. Fanny packs, uncomfortable purses, phone leashes (inspired by the ever-popular “leash kids”) and rash activating Velcro body straps.

So, today, pat your pocket on the back and give thanks to the little piece of clothing that could. The almighty pocket.

______________________________________________________________

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys collecting pocket lint and weaving it into elaborate sweaters. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

In Praise of Pockets

When was the last time that you thought about your pocket? We have pocket protectors, pocket squares, pocket watches and pocket sized Bibles. Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, Polly Pocket, and a pocket full of sunshine (well, at least, I’ve gotta pocket, gotta pocket full of sunshine). Your pocket is the most important part of your outfit and yet we rarely consider it when getting dressed.

The other day, while foot tapping my way across Pandora, I heard the lyric, “we are the second, you’re minutes behind.” Being the social media “geek-ling” that I am, I paused the player and sat pondering the significance of that statement in an uber-connected world. I decided that I needed to share my thoughts and instinctively reached into my pocket.

Small, discrete and infinitely useful, the pocket is the keeper of the communication equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife  – our smart phones. In order to be ahead of the curve you need to be able to send and receive information quickly, without restrictions. Back in the Dark Ages (1990’s) we would be tethered to our desks, spending hours stuffed into cold, dark cubicles, waiting for breaking news. Now, our pockets play gallant host to the mobile devices that keep us…mobile.

To adapt an old adage, “keep your mobile device close, and your sim card closer.” Without our perfectly crafted pockets, we would have to resort to alternative ways to transport our phones. Fanny packs, uncomfortable purses, phone leashes (inspired by the ever-popular “leash kids”) and rash activating Velcro body straps.

So, today, pat your pocket on the back and give thanks to the little piece of clothing that could. The almighty pocket.

______________________________________________________________

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys collecting pocket lint and weaving it into elaborate sweaters. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.