Author Archive

The Risks of Changing Facebook’s Security Standards

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

In the FastCompany article “Facebook Locks Up Its User Safety With Global Advisory Board”, the author talks about Facebooks plans to drastically improve safety standards on the social media platform.

Facebook greatly announced in a press release this morning that it plans to set up a Global Advisory Board on Security.
There can be no doubt that online safety is of fundamental importance for a social networking site. In the German speaking market (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the social media market leader has ever since been a site called StudiVz. In terms of its functions and user groups, this platform seems like a copy of Facebook adapted to the local market conditions.

About two years ago, negative press about personal information being passed to third parties have led to a fundamental shift in the highly private sphere wary German consumer market. All of a sudden, users changed to invented profile names on the site and by that taking the essence from the tool- to find each other and connect. The medium suffered irreparable damage by these shifts. It appears to be only a matter of time until Facebook will take over market leadership.

Now, could this scenario happen to Facebook as well? I don’t think so. There have been similar issues about privacy in the past, but it does not seem to affect the US user environment. In spite of a high general awareness of potential misuse of private data, people still keep posting highly personal information as well as pictures on the site. There seems to be a large difference in consumer culture regarding private sphere.

With Facebook expanding largely internationally and soon reaching 350,000,000 users, these consumer insights undoubtedly have to be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the company has be careful not to create more problems than before through the enhancement of safety standards. First of all, the security deficit might not be perceived as such by the current Facebook audience. Large-scale PR announcements might therefore evoke an unnecessary suspiciousness among users: “What is wrong with the current Facebook security structure?” Secondly, the past has shown that users are highly attached to the current system of the site and any changes in layout have usually led to a large uproar.

Facebook therefore has to carefully think about how to go about changes in its safety standards as well as how to communicate them. There has to be a fine balance in being more appealing to international markets without jeopardizing its value in its home market.

Starbucks move into social media with its Holiday 2.0 campaign

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

After its nationwide debut in mainstream advertising, Starbuck’s move into social media seems like a more promising route to further manifest the brand mantra in the mind of the consumer.

The company offers branded holiday playlists on Pandora that lead into a “All You Need Is Love” CD that is available in its stores for free when making a purchase of $15. Moreover, on a microsite called the “Starbucks Love Project”, consumers can draw their own Christmas cards, send them to a friend and have it posted in the online gallery. With each card each contributed, Starbucks donates 5ct to a good cause. The whole initiative is supported by interactive online ads.
Not only is the Starbucks initiative a great example of how to create an entire integrated campaign around the web, but has the potential to boost the emotions affiliated with the brand. Starbucks clearly seeks to associate itself and the values of the “third place” with the emotional spirit of the holidays: Love (cards to friends and family), caring (donation to underprivileged) as well as coziness (seasonal music). All this is done subtly but brilliantly, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of using the holiday craze for overt commercial interests. This promotional latency suits the character of the most high-end coffee retailer in America and can itself turn out to be a strong point of difference during the holiday period, when every company in the nation will fight for out money .

Every element of the campaign encompasses and immediate call-to-action, while word-of-mouth will probably be the most valuable measurement index for the brand. And wasn’t Starbucks built on word-of-mouth?  Online initiatives like this make it possible to revitalize the brand in a way that is authentic to its true essence. If the initiative drives traffic, the campaign seems likely to create high levels of engagement by energizing its consumers and loading the brand emotionally.

Francesco Wesel

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Traditional journalism’s reincarnation into the blogsophere

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Do you believe in Karma? This article from today’s Fastcompany (10/22/09) “Blogging Is Dead, Long Live Journalism” deals the fall of the bloggosphere and the rebirth of journalism.

It is nowadays possible to make a good living out of blogging with an average of $122,222 for full time engagement! This is a huge opportunity for small start-up journalists, as well as old, established journalists who suffered from the decline of traditional print media. Looking at these numbers it appears as if the scaringly inevitable force of globalization is finally reaching the blogosphere- the big ones get bigger, the small ones get smaller. If this consolidation continues, it seems as if we might soon have to redefine what blogging actually means. The medium risks loosing its essence.

So far it has been the hobby nature that made the medium so particular. However, in case in the future the primary interest will be of a financial nature, the medium risks becoming just as mainstream as traditional print media in order to attract the widest user base possible. Bigger bloggers might start to increasingly fight for our attention in order to receive more advertising dollars. And the big losers will be the everyday, hobby bloggers- those that so far gave the medium its fundament.

Our attention spans are shorter than ever and everybody prioritizes, following only a selected amount of blogs. There seems to be a significant danger that -over the long run- only the big blogs make it into our consideration set, while the smaller ones merely coexist. We could be the ones killing the traditional form of blogging.

On the other hand, its often talked about that the days of traditional journalism are coming to an end. And euthanasia of the medium should be the best solution. However, reading this article gives hope that there will be some kind of journalism Karma. Its spirit might just be reincarnated into a new medium- the blogosphere.

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