Using Social Media: Don’t Forget to Listen

Image by ky_olsen. Licensed through Creative Commons 2.0
Image by ky_olsen. Licensed through Creative Commons 2.0

A new study by San Diego State University reveals that US college students believe that their generation use social media for, “self-promotion, narcissism and attention seeking.”

This may well be true but I believe that this is due to the users rather than the medium. Social media provides excellent opportunities for listening and discovery. Just like in a real-world social gathering it is wise to listen first and then to speak. Those who seek the warm balm of easy attention generally find it short lived. Just like the salesman who works the room at a conference with the line, “Hi, I’m Bob, my company is the best supplier of widgets ever. Here’s my card. See ya,” blatant self promotion is empty and quickly dismissed online.

Social media makes listening easy and provides some very useful tools for doing so effectively. Twitter and FriendFeed provide the ability to save search terms and even provides RSS feeds for saved searches. These searches are updated in real-time.

The most common use of this is to monitor mentions of, your own name, your brands or your clients. This is a powerful tool but this is just the beginning of the potential of listening to social media. This monitoring allows you to react quickly to any mentions of your business. Imagine the power of offering the solution to a problem to a user of your products who has not even contacted you to complain yet. That’s customer service almost indistinguishable from magic. Continue reading Using Social Media: Don’t Forget to Listen

Twitter: Does it have to change the world?

Lépicié,_Nicolas-Bernardt_-_Narcisse_-_1771Janet Street-Porter has used her role as Editor-at-Large for The Independent newspaper to express her disdain for Twitter. She claims that, “tweeting has replaced sex as this summer’s hot activity,” so the genesis for the vitriol may have been a particularly ungracious brush-off. Whatever the genesis of the rant the article does highlight some interesting perspectives on Twitter from those who don’t seem to understand the potential of the service.

Her objections seem to boil down to the perception that Twitter is,

  • Shallow
  • Narcissistic
  • Illiterate
  • Middle-class/middle-aged

Some of this is true but Twitter is a large community with many different types of people involved. The main area where I feel she misses the point though is that Twitter is about communities not individuals. Yes, the individual we love the NHS tweets don’t present a comprehensive argument for the benefits of the NHS. The aggregate of the tweets is interesting though. Continue reading Twitter: Does it have to change the world?

Two Cultures Clash

Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)
Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)

Two recent events in the world of technology and the internet serve to bring into relief the divergence between two ways of viewing the development of technology in general, the refusal of GoogleVoice apps by the iPhone App Store and the grant of a patent to VoloMedia for “providing episodic media” which seems to mean podcasting.
The question boils down to, is the internet a new territory that will require new practices to flourish or is it an analogue of existing media that will accommodate existing models and practices?

I feel this is a fundamental division of perception of the medium. The internet and associated technologies are often seen through the frame of existing media like publishing, broadcast radio or television. That correlational viewpoint has some value but with a very limited scope. Web designers have been pulling their hair out for years trying to get web pages to behave like printed ones and the parlous state of internet radio is largely precipitated by an attempt to apply a broadcast radio mindset to the levying of royalty payments.

TechCrunch reports that Apple is pulling all GoogleVoice enabled apps from the App Store. As Jason Kincaid states in his article this is probably being done to preserve Apple’s relationship with AT&T, the iPhone’s official carrier in the USA. The official reason reported is that these applications, “duplicate features that come with the iPhone.” Though AT&T deny any involvement and put the blame firmly at Apple’s door.

The statement from Apple is weak. Yes, you can make and receive calls on the iPhone. You can even send SMS and use a voicemail service, but you can’t access the advantages GoogleVoice particularly free SMS and cheaper long distance call rates. Perhaps what rankles most is that this move seems to be about preserving a commercial partnership and customer service be damned. Continue reading Two Cultures Clash