Sunday, April 15, 2012

YouTube Getting a Social Makeover

Do you remember the days before social media took over the web? I do, but boy does it seem like a lifetime ago. Back then, we used to visit websites that didn’t even have comments, never mind a Facebook plugin that allows you to share the article with your nearest and dearest friends. But as some sites have embraced and flourished with social media, others have lagged behind the times a bit. YouTube has been one of those sites. But all of that is about to change.

A YouTube employee told Reuters that the video-sharing giant (a social media site in and of itself) is about to get even more social. In the past, you may have expected or wanted to see a Facebook plugin on the site that allows you to easily share and comment on videos by using your Facebook account. But Google (who owns YouTube) just wasn’t having it. I don’t think the relationship between Facebook and Google is the greatest, but I think Google is also out for world domination (and it’s well on its way).

When Google Plus was launched, everyone anticipated where this was going. You didn't have to be a web guru or software engineer to know what was coming next. Google was about to make up for where it lagged in the past, but it would do so on its own terms – with its own social network. So far, we’ve seen the introduction of social to Google’s search engine (which is a huge step) and now we’re about to see social meet social with the integration of Google Plus into YouTube.

In all fairness, YouTube has been integrated into Google Plus since day one with Plus’s “hangout” feature. With 800 million unique visitors, YouTube is a huge market to tap. Google Plus has taken some time to gain popularity, but I think we’re about to see it get a whole lot more important. Do you have your Plus account ready to go?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How to Stop Photo Tagging on Facebook

Remember that time you were really drunk and thought it would be funny to lift your shirt over your head (to show off your fancy new tattoo), and then someone took a picture... and then they posted it on Facebook... and then someone else tagged you so everyone you know got to see it? Yeah, me too. That was hi-lar-ious.

Well, I probably shouldn’t tell you this because it’ll mean I won’t get to see any more of those gut busters, but there’s a way you can prevent this from happening. I know you untagged yourself when you finally logged in and got a chance to see it, but unfortunately, that was three days after it was posted, so it was sufficiently shared and commented on. In your little world, you could say this thing went viral.

Okay, so here’s how it’s done (it’s actually pretty simple):

1. Click the little arrow next to the Home button to see a dropdown menu.

2. Select “Privacy Settings

3. Next to “How tags work,” hit “edit settings”

a. “Timeline review” controls whether friends are allowed to tag you in a conversation. If you enable it, you get to review all tags before they’re posted on your wall (they still can be posted elsewhere, though, so this setting doesn’t really do much for your privacy)

b. “Tag review” controls whether friends are allowed to tag you in photos. If you enable this feature, you’ll get a notification when a friend wants to tag you. You can either approve or deny the request. If you approve it, your friends and your friend’s friends can see the tag and it’ll appear on your Timeline.

c. “Tag suggestions” is Facebook’s facial recognition software. Pretty snazzy, huh? In theory, it’ll recognize you from a picture that one of your friends posted and suggest that you be tagged. You can completely turn this off if you don’t like the idea.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Use Social Media to Find Your Next Pet

The other day, a new social media trend was brought to my attention, and the news brought a smile to my face. Many shelter dogs and cats are finding homes through social media. Isn’t that just a great use of technology? I can’t really think of anything better, except maybe for that guy who diagnosed himself with Cushing’s disease after seeing a picture on Reddit - a find that allowed him to set himself on the road to recovery.

Ah, I love a good social media success story. But, this news got me thinking. Some animal shelters are doing an awesome job at using social media to their advantage, but so many others either shy away or put forth only a minute amount of effort. It’s sad really; just think about those poor little dogs and cats sitting there behind bars just waiting for someone to come in off the street and take them home. If their picture would just get posted on Facebook along with a heart-warming story, you can bet Fido will be finding his forever home very soon.

People just love to help good causes, but they don’t necessarily always go out of their way to seek out opportunities. That’s what’s so great about social media. The opportunities are passed around from person to person until it reaches one that feels the need to take action. From the pharmacy tech next door to the paleontologist in Mumbai, social media spreads awareness. We’ve seen it with KONY 2012, and now we’re seeing it with pet adoptions.

So, I guess the moral of this story is: if you come across a story about a pet who needs a home, go ahead and pass it on. And if you are ever in a situation where you need to spread awareness about a good cause, use social media.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why You May Want to Take Social Media Classes

Although you may not want to add another class to your course load, if you’re planning to look for a job in marketing, or if you want to be a young entrepreneur, you might want to consider taking a social media crash course. This isn’t like Facebook 101 or something silly like that. Everyone knows you’ve been using social media since middle school.

What I’m talking about here is a course designed by experts for professionals who want to market themselves or their business ventures online (through social media, of course). Social media is just one piece of the marketing puzzle, but it’s becoming a really important one. At the very least, your extra-curricular coursework will make you more appealing to potential employers and give you an edge over others who are graduating alongside you (and vying for the same exact jobs).

There are a few courses out there. To decide which one is best, you should really take a look through each agenda. Here are three programs I’ve found that seem to be worthwhile. I may even take one or two of them myself. Hey, it can’t hurt, right?

Brazen Social Media Strategy 4-Hour Course – This is an interactive online workshop that walks you through the process of creating an effective social media strategy for business.

Media Bistro – Media Bistro offers online courses on various topics and they vary by season, but there are usually at least one or two social media marketing and strategy courses to choose from. Check out their site for more info.

Inbound Marketing Training Program – This program is designed by HubSpot, a company that pretty much revolves around social media. It’s a comprehensive video series geared towards marketing professionals. The best part? It’s free. How could you argue with free? They also have an Inbound Marketing Certification that might look nice and fancy on your resume.

Those are just three classes that I happen to have heard good things about. However, if you do a quick search among the top online colleges, you'll probably find a lot more.

If you have a few minutes, watch the video below to see a funny parody of Alanis Morissette's song "You Oughta Know" that illustrates the difference between inbound marketing and other marketing efforts -- and then, take a social media class. ;)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is Social Media a Popularity Contest

I saw an episode of South Park the other day that kind of made me laugh. I’m not a fan of the show, and I don’t usually even watch, but it happened to be on. Oh, and I’m a sucker for social media humor. One of my favorite episodes of Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a show I do actually like) was the “Anti-Social Network.” If you missed it, you’ve got to check it out on Hulu… It’s hysterical.

Anyway, back to South Park. I didn’t watch the whole show, so I won’t even try to do an episode recap, but let’s just say there were “friending” and “unfriending” issues. One of the characters (not a main character) was said to be so lonely that he doesn’t even have one Facebook friend. The plot went on from there, but I just love when shows point out how ridiculous we sometimes act.

People shouldn’t judge you in real life based on how many Facebook friends you have, but they do. People also shouldn’t join “Add me” groups and add thousands of strangers to their page in an attempt to seem more popular, but they do. Ever since the early days of Myspace, social media has been somewhat of a popularity contest. Personally, I have under 100 Facebook friends because I like to keep it to people I actually know (and kind of even like).

But, I see others getting caught up with thousands of “friends.” Really? Do you really have four thousand friends? Your birthday parties must be super expensive. And you probably need to hire a police officer to work the door. But on the other hand, I guess you get an obscene amount of gifts, right?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Should Schools Track Social Media?

Being that a Twitter threat was a possible warning to the Ohio shooting, the question has been raised “Should schools be monitoring students' social media accounts?” It’s kind of interesting that this question is posed around the same time news sites are reporting that employers are asking to have access to employee’s social networking accounts. In that case, I say it’s a violation of privacy, but in the case of the schools? Maybe not.

When we’re talking about saving lives, I think it’s a different issue. It’s kind of like how the government monitors our online activity to help identify threats to national security. Although this certainly can be abused, I think overall, I’d opt for safety.

What people are talking about with the schools, though, is not really an invasion of privacy at all. They’re talking about having someone monitor online activity that is already public. So, it would kind of be like that person is a student, although they may not be. It would be that person’s responsibility to interact and befriend students online and to decide whether any threats made are legitimate.

The problem with this approach is that there are actually a lot of threats made online, especially among students. It’s a hard job to weed out the ones that could potentially be real. That person wouldn’t have an easy job, and he undoubtedly would be wrong every so often, but I think it would be better to have someone listening to the online conversation than not.

If someone had been doing this before the Ohio shooting, maybe things would have gone differently. Maybe police would have been dispatched to that troubled student’s home before he could show up at school with a gun and create the tragic situation we have come to find out about. Overall, I think it’s a good policy for schools to adopt. What do you think?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Should You Consider a Social Media Degree?

When I was in college, social media didn’t exist. Wow; that really makes me sound old. But, it’s true. Social media wasn’t a thing. There was no Facebook and Myspace wasn’t even around yet. To be honest, I’m kind of glad that my life back then wasn’t documented online. There are some things I’d rather not have out there for the world to see. In that way, I kind of feel bad for the kids in school today; but on the other hand, there are so many more ways to network and connect with other students and influential people that the tradeoff might just be worthwhile.

In the past few years, social media has emerged as not only a way to connect with friends, but as a viable career option. Still, the question remains: Is it worthy of a dedicated degree? To really answer that question, you have to ask yourself a few more questions, and you have to understand that any answers are based in speculation. It’s not like becoming an accountant where you know there will be demand for your specialty for years to come. Because of that, those who decide to major in social media are taking a risk.

On the plus side, they will graduate as one of the very few “experts” in social media marketing. On the minus side, they won’t really know whether their education will be relevant in ten or even five years to come. That’s why many students are shying away from social media degrees. They’ll gladly take social media classes as part of their marketing or business admin majors, but most students feel that a degree dedicated to social media is too risky. I have to say, I don’t disagree. Education is too expensive to gamble your future on a concentration that may or may not help land you a job in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think social media is going anywhere, but I do think things are changing so rapidly that your four year degree may become obsolete way too soon.

Anyhow, as I’ve said, it’s all speculation. If you’re thinking about a social media degree, I’m not trying to sway your opinion. I just think you need to carefully weigh your options.