Sunday, August 26, 2007

ABCs of Facebook

Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

While Facebook was originally designed as a tool for college students to network online, today, more than half of its 35 million active users are not college students, as reported in the August 20 issue of Newsweek, “Facebook Grows Up.” The growing population of Facebook users are above college age, and many are professionals.

Two things occurred in the last year to stimulate its dramatic growth. First, registration was opened to everyone. It no longer requires that you be invited by a current user. Second, developers started filling Facebook with tons of applications that people can use within Facebook. Many of those applications are rather silly, but some are quite practical.

So how can you use Facebook in a communications function? Interestingly, in many companies, employees are using Facebook to connect with each others in ways that they need but their Intranets won’t facilitate. In fact a few companies didn’t know this was going on until their IT departments banned use of Facebook at work and were met with huge outcrys from employees who were using Facebook to get their jobs done better.

Several of the podcasts I listen to have created fan groups in Facebook. I find it an interesting idea, though I think each is still toying with ways to make their groups more useful to everyone involved.

For more on this subject (and as your homework), listen to the New Comm Road episode #033 “Building Facebook Communities” by Bryan Person.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top Media and Marketing Blogs Ranked by AdAge

Earlier this month, the folks over at Advertising Age kicked off a real-time ranking of media and marketing blogs. There are almost 400 on the list called the “Power150,” even though the list has quickly grown beyond 150.

Todd Andrlik created the list and automated it, as Ad Age reports, using three objective measures: algorithmic metrics based on Google PageRank, Bloglines subscriptions and Technorati ranking. There is also one qualitative measure of some sort.

So if you are looking for something to read, check out the list at Some of the ones I’ve recommended are there – as are many that I’ve never heard of.

What I find interesting is how frustrating it is to want information on how you’re doing (your web site, your blog, your podcast, your whatever), to have access to reams of data and still to just be able to get a general idea.

For example, using Bloglines subscriptions is verifiable data. It is based on something real. Yet, just because someone subscribes, doesn’t mean they read.

The same is true for my organization’s podcast. I can count page views and certain kinds of subscriptions. I can even count downloads of each audio file. But I don’t know if any of my downloaders are listeners.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Become a Byline Blogger

Our chapter established the San Antonio PRSA Byline blog in February 2006 in order to
• provide and experience professional development for public relations professionals,
• advocate the profession of public relations and its ethical practice,
• conduct outreach to professionals and students (particularly in the San Antonio area), and
• foster an exchange of ideas regarding public relations and related topics, including use of social media.

If you are interested in writing for the San Antonio Byline Blog, here’s your chance. No blogging experience is required. In fact, pretty much all of our current bloggers had never blogged before.

The chapter will provide a brief training session to get you started. Bloggers in our group are asked to post at least twice a month – though work and family can come first. This is a chance for you to dip your toe into blogging without a huge commitment or risk. Plus, it’s fun!

Contact Christie Goodman for more information. Office team bloggers must be members of the chapter. The training session will be held on August 31 at noon (brown bag lunch) at the Northside ISD Learning Center, at Bandera and Grissom Road, Building D (on Bandera north of 401).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Data on Social Networks

Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

In June, Advertising Age reported on the growth of online social networks (June 11, 2007, page 14). Here are some key points they made.

MySpace = 57 million unique visitors
Largest and most diverse of the social networks. Audience is still growing. Unique visitors up 49 percent in the last year. Airs Fox TV shows and is a partner in NBC-News Corp. joint venture.

Facebook = 14.4 million unique visitors
Opened up membership last year. Unique visitors up 152 percent over the past year. Claims 85 percent of market share at universities, but more than half of users are out of college. Fastest growing group is 25 and up. Founder built the site while at Harvard. Recently started allowing developers and advertisers to create applications and widgets for use in Facebook.

Bebo = 1.7 million unique visitors
Unique visitors up 109 percent since last year. Has a younger audience than the previous two sites. Popular in Texas and the U.S. Midwest. International expansion is expected.

Gather = 1.7 million unique visitors
Average age is 42 and 72 percent of audience has a college education. Grew 11 percent in May alone. Trying to become more portal-like with content from Harvard Medical School and soon-to-launch partnership with

Friendster = 1.3 million unique visitors
Ad Age says this was the original social network (though Wikipedia gives the honors to Classmates). Experiencing a small resurgence. U.S. visitors doubled in the last year. But time on the site and page views are down. Still carries some kind of stigma.

Flixster = too small to count
Median age is 18. Focuses on movies. Currently trying to grow the audience before tending to making money.

Ad Age states that while MySpace is in front of them all by far, others are growing faster.

Note: Ad Age did not report on Zooped, which was mentioned by a commenter to my previous post. I had never seen it until tonight. It has quite a variety of features, including business networking. But I have to admit, I was a bit creeped out by someone’s raunchy profile photo on the home page.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Social Networks: Lesson 5 in Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

So far in this learning about social media series we have covered RSS, blogs, podcasts and Delicious. I was going to talk about something else this month, but social networking has seen a surge of interest of late.

First, what is a social network? In this context, it’s a way of networking online. When you go to a PRSA meeting, you catch up with people you know and you meet new people. The same thing happens online. In social networks, people tend to find others with similar interests.

According to Wikipedia, the first social networking website was, which began in 1995. Many others have sprung up since then. Some are focused to a particular demographic or industry. Others, like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are more broad.

When you join a social network – typically for free – you will be able to set up your own profile page and start looking for “friends” who are also in that network.

LinkedIn’s profile pages are designed mostly for resume-type information. It’s designed for professionals to find each other.

Facebook has garnered much attention lately because it has opened up its infrastructure to allow for users to bring in non-Facebook applications, like to-do lists, Twitter posts, maps and movie ratings. (Though I did find it a little creepy that the sign up page asks if you are interested in men or women and if you are looking for a relationship, dating or random play. Hopefully, that will change as more and more professionals are using Facebook.)

Homework: Your first assignment this month his to ask three to five people you know if they are using a social networking site. Find out what they like and don’t like. Share it in the comments to this post. If you are using one, share what you like and don’t like.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ethics of Photo Manipulation Blasted Again

It feels like it should be obvious by now that magazines and advertisers “edit” photos of attractive people to make them impossibly attractive. It’s been going on for years. They tell us they have to do it so we will pay attention, so we will buy the thing, so we will trust them. Everyone knows it’s misleading. Everyone knows it furthers the myth that perfection is possible.

But it’s one of those things you know in your head but not in your heart.

Take the recent Redbook cover with Faith Hill. The folks at got their hands on the original photo that was used for the doctored-up cover. On the cover, Faith is missing some blemishes. OK fine. But she’s also missing body parts. Her arm is thinner without the traces of natural flab that were there before. And that part of you that bunches up around a waistband has disappeared.

I look at the cover shot and think, wow, she’s in shape. How does she do that – especially after having kids? I never could. But I should. And so it goes.

And it’s worse for kids who don’t know the secret yet.

The ironic part is that Faith Hill is really attractive without any adjustments. So why do they do this?

The Today Show covered the story (which you can view online). The Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison had the audacity to say: “In the end, they're not really photographs. They're images.” Uh huh, and I have some swampland for sale.

One of the guests also said, “That’s what women want to buy.” Which is total *%#. It always has been but it is especially so in today’s world of reality and transparency.

They way I see it, making people appear better than is humanly possible is a deception. Rationalizing doesn’t take away the lie.

And this lie is harmful.

It’s harmful to adults – men and women both – in terms of our self concepts and expectations of each other.

And clearly it’s harmful to kids and teens. come said it well: “In a world where girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts… it's __ing wrong.”

As a parent of daughters, as a woman, as a consumer, as an advocate of media literacy, I’m grateful to the likes of and Dove.

Shel Holtz recently shared that he uses the Dove "Evolution" viral video campaign as an example in his presentations. One of those days, a participant slipped out during lunch, went to his hotel room and e-mailed the video to his daughter. She’d been having serious problems and was even suicidal. He later told Shel that the Dove video changed his daughter’s life.

Media images have an impact. Each of us has to decide everyday if we want that impact to be good or bad.