Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tagged on the 4x4 Meme (thanx, Marianne!)

Needless to say I've been working far too hard on my multiple projects these days and really *need* to lighten it's great that my friend Marianne Richmond tagged me on the lots-o-fun 4x4 goes:

4 Places I've been

Bar Harbor, ME--one of my most favorite places on earth. Hotel rooms with no internet, no phone and no tv! talk about getting away from it all...

Raleigh-Durham Airport--if you end up getting stuck in an airport, this one's not too bad.

The Guggenheim, NYC--more than a's an experience.

Las Vegas, NV--the grown-up Disneyland. Can't wait to get back there!

4 Jobs I've had I've never had a glamour job, just crummy jobs. Now, I don't have crummy jobs--I've got strange jobs.

Lingerie Sales (not too long ago...)

Freelance writer (abeit briefly and with much sturm und drang)

Secretary (was not very good at this)

Math Tutor (Algebra and Statistics. Seriously. I used to be able to do it, now I'm not so sure)

4 Favorite Foods

Tamales--it's like polenta, only different ;-)
Brussels Sprouts (go ahead, laugh. they're great with butter! don't knock them till you try them)

4 TV shows I DVR

I don't DVR anything. I don't think I ever recorded anything on my VCR either. It's never been *that* important to me. But there are 4 shows I watch regularly--mostly for the men--#4 doesn't count in that department. We all know Clinton's gay.:

Nip/Tuck (Julian McMahon is the George Clooney of TV. just wish he'd quit shaving the chest hair.)
CSI Miami
CSI Las Vegas
What Not to Wear I have to tag four folks myself. Of my most-serious blogroll, I'm thinking of Amy Gahran, Tom Bruno, Madison Guy (whose moniker I always want to turn around and call him Guy Madison after the 50's actor...) and Dawno who hasn't been posting regularly, and could use the nudge :-)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Facebook for Kids? Not If Marketers and Spammers have their say about it

At the BeeB, Roy Cellan-Jones (their tech blogger) took a look at the latest drop in UK Facebook users and suspects that "most of the over-25 age group will now find they can live without it. That still leaves a large core audience, but one that Facebook may find slightly harder to sell to the advertisers on whom its future depends"....well, I guess Roy didn't see this little tid-bit in MediaPost about Facebook allowing marketers to "create more dynamic profile pages through new tools including custom versions of Flash animation and HTML..."

But that's not all: Facebook Pages--the name for the new branded pages--will now allow "fans" to upload photos (be careful--you could end up in a vodka ad!) and has installed settings so that alcohol-related products can block underage users (over-age users be careful! you could end up on a vodka ad!) See Inside Facebook for more...

Yet an even bigger problem looms in social networks, regardless of whether it's home to kids or not: security from malware adware and other targeted attacks. As reported in InfoWorld security experts fear that soc. networking sites provide the perfect vehicle for these kinds of attacks (and more Internet nasties.) And these experts aren't talking just LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace (where Alicia Keys' site was horrifically hacked)--they're thinking, too of eBay and PayPal as well.
"There are more than 150 million active Web sites worldwide and MySpace has something like 200 million pages; that speaks to the challenge facing these companies to secure themselves and there's no way for any security vendor to crawl all those URLs and put them in a database to use white listing or blacklisting," said Dan Nadir, vice president of product strategy at ScanSafe, a provider of hosted security services.

"We're already seeing extremely complex, well-designed attacks on these sites where there is a lot of content modification aimed at tricking the end user, with people trying to put malware on their own pages or someone else's," he said. "Companies need to realize that it's not just about malware being on porn sites or free screensaver pages anymore. Social networking is where the activity is heading, and companies need to wake up and protect themselves."

But it's not just companies--we have to protect ourselves as well. As I observed once you get into any number of soc. network, you may have a very difficult time getting out. Now, I guess our neglected, useless and abandoned profiles it could, unbeknown to us, hacked and used as a vehicles for spreading all kinds of bad crap.

Another reason to keep wicked vigilant about where you post a profile and why you should always keep track of all those profiles.

Note to self: try to get neglected profiles removed from "dead" social networking sites!!

Another note: MediaPost, one of my favorite online pubs, recently went "social." I am extremely disappointed by this, as I really see no need for me to develop a profile on MediaPost's site. Yet I love reading their articles and occasionally like to post a comment. I'm in a quandry about this--and am becoming even more concerned over online publications that feel this desperate need to become social networks. Further, with Facebook's new announcement, I'm feeling more and more like my social network profiles are just as much a target for marketers as they might be for malware developers. I hate to see marketing take all the fun out of social networking, but I would be surprised any more if it eventually did.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why There are More Jobs in Marketing, Less Jobs In Media

Earlier this week, Ad Age reported that one in four media jobs had disappeared since 2000, which is a 15-year low for media employment. Ad Age claims that the growth in media employment is going on in marketing and there's good reason for this:
Here's the reason behind the disparity: Marketers still invest in marketing, but they have options far beyond paid media: digital initiatives, direct marketing, promotions and events, just to name a few. That creates more opportunities for consultants to help define strategies.

Having knocked around the media/new media landscape as a freelancer for the past two years, I agree with reporter Bradley Johnson's assertion--and know a little of the reason why there's all this growth in one place and decline in another. Johnson notes that even though ad and p.r. agency employment is still below their 10% and 11.5% respective growth rates in 2000, ad/marketing services have added 106,000 jobs with "marketing consulting accounted for nearly half (48,200) of those gains."

I'd hedge a good bet that a lot of those marketing consulting jobs are in the realm of internet and, more recently, in social media marketing. As Facebook continues to be front-page news, and many companies begin to or desperately desire to jump on the social media bandwagon, they are finally starting to turn to social media consultants to help them understand what's going on as much as get something started. The savvy marketing agency or p.r. agency will begin to hire social media consultants (and some have done so already) and there is lots of forming and merging of companies that leverage social media going on right now (the creation of The Conversation Group and the merger of MarketHum and Foghound into Beeline Labs as two examples I know of...)

Media, on the other hand, esp. newspapers, appear to not want to hire outside consultants. It is also, more than likely, more difficult for a newspaper or publisher to launch a social-media experiment, as some companies do.

The ethos regarding various forms of social media experimentation is to fail early and get out, thus keeping the cost of the social media campaign fairly low for the client. Unfortunatley, managing client expectation in social media campaigns has the potential to be a bigger bear than one can imagine--esp. when consultant must pussyfoot around facts of the social media space. Companies have a hard time accepting that their product or service may be completely rejected by the social media space. They are often blinded by the success stories and want what those guys got. That may not be possible with many products or services, given the people who populate the social media space--their needs, their perceived roles as "consumer advocates" or their actual positions as quality sources of information within their niches governs the ways in which they will, or won't, accept a marketing plan from a social media firm.

Some companies that might be impatient to stimulate positive "buzz" about their product might even pay for blog posts or other positive word of mouth. This flies in the face (just a bit) of the idea of all this positive buzz bubbling up from the grassroots. It's kind of like "astroturf"-- if no one's disclosing, how does one know if a happy endorsement from a particular group of bloggers for a particular product is real or if they received anything from coupons to cash payments for their endorsements. Endorsements, as in blog posts, aren't the same as carrying ads for products--although some folks believe them to be the same thing. How's kind of like saying it's fine to possibly mislead your friends about a product as long as you're getting something for it....

So, newspapers and publishing houses can't do what lots of other products and services do--launch an effort for a short period of time and learn from the failure (or pay for a post.) Rather, they have to come out of the gate with a plan that must do something to help stimulate revenue as well as create connections with their reader/customer base.

Which is an extremely difficult thing to do, esp. when there is animosity/fear towards the reader/customer which comes about thru a mis-understanding of the variety of communication customs and mores that have developed over the 10 plus years of communication across the Internet. Readers, when posting online, can easily be perceived as "those people" or "Internet people" and not readers of a newspaper. The newspaper folk fail to realize that their readers can be just as "incivil" online as someone from another city miles away(who probably isn't interested in causing trolly mischief on an out of town paper's message board...)

The other problem is that newspapers *are* the companies that *need* social media/marketing consultants. But they don't have the money to pay what the average social media marketing consultant can earn from a product or other service providing company.

Newspapers are now scrutinizing results from grant-funded experiments in "new media." Often, they are taking meticulous notes on what works (or doesn't) with hyperlocal, or crowdsourcing, or hybrid "pro/am" projects. Sometimes they hire the folks who've worked on the experiments, sometimes they buy the app or site that's been generated, other times they take the ideas, have someone in-house analyze them, then try to replicate them in-house, all with the belief that they already have the talent to do it right.

But often the newspaper's in-house talent doesn't understand the social mores of the internet any more than some of the clients of soc. media marketing firms (or the marketing firms that try to grow their own soc. media experts.)

So, perhaps Ad Age, if they wanted to understand what's going on with newspapers, should have looked at the explosion of grants going on right now for new media...

The thing is, grants pay far less for the same kinds of work, if not more, than the social media consultants can make from a company with a strong desire to do something in the social media space. In media, it's as if someone else must foot the bill, and you, the developer of the project, must do it as something of a service to the greater good of media (esp. newspapers.)

Therefore, when it comes to demonstrating job-market growth, it's easy to see how the marketing sector, esp. among marketing consultants, is showing growth, while media, esp. newspapers is showing a decline. Newspapers rely on (to quote Blanche DuBois) "the kindness of strangers" willing to give time for grant money, while corporations, which have a diversity of products and perhaps a bigger profit margin, are willing to experiment with social media. This is not to say that marketing always does the right thing--they, too, may weigh legacy marketing experience over social media experience when hiring. But they hire and pay well. Not unlike newspapers, where there is no hiring, but a lot of grants being given out.

Is it then fair to say that there's really *no* growth in newspaper job creation and lots of growth in marketing job creation? Not really, if the grant-funded projects are not factored into the equation, and the turnover/failure rate isn't factored into marketing job creation. But, then again, the grant-funded projects aren't necessarily paying as well as if they were "real" media outlet jobs, should they be considered the same as the jobs created in the marketing sector?

Something to think about....
Update Another aspect to media hiring is subcontracting, which doesn't figure into employment figures per se. So, a media company may have hired a number of different groups or contractors, but none are considered employees in the sense that Ad Age might consider them. The layoffs, however, may outpace the contract hirings, so even if measured, there may not be a significant increase in hiring.

Further reading HipMojo has an excellent post on Why Most VC-Backed, Ad-Supported Companies Are Doomed to Fail: I must say: I am baffled with how much many VCs are neither realistic nor knowledgeable with the bulk of their advertising assumptions. Not only are the assumptions off, but they seem to fail to realize the psychology and dynamics that go into play with how ad sales work. The competitive nature and subjective method to the madness is generally unaccounted for. Or, alternatively, the challenges and complexities of building sales streams are wildly underestimated.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Sticky" Social Networking Profiles May Not be Just a Facebook Problem

So, in its ever up-to-the-trendy news reports meant to make us think about digital life, the New York Times had a whiny little piece on all those disgruntled Facebook users who can't fully delete their profiles from Facebook....Meanwhile, totally missing Ed Sussman's announcement of FastCompany going the social networking route, calling it some form of "social journalism" in order to try to monetize all the UGC they're going to amass in profiles and blog posts and comments....Which begs the following question:

  • Should I be worried about whether or not all those profiles--not just my Facebook profile--will be stickier than gum (or something worse) on the bottom of my favorite new sneakers?

    Now, I've been asking the "how many?" question for awhile--and I hadn't really thought much about the stickiness factor but in the ever-expanding field of social networking, this could have some long-range consequences...not to mention that we don't really know the true motives of those setting up the networks.

    Being a curious sort, I decided to check out four of my incomplete or inactive soc. networking profile--on Bloggoggle, Classmates, Gather, and Doostang-- to see if I could fully delete them. I checked my profile on a social job-seeking network Bloggoggle which has been around since '06(and I've supposedly been a member there since Feb of '06.)

    And I guess I'm still a member because I can't delete my profile from the site.

    I might be able to delete it if I emailed the Bloggoggle guys, but I shouldn't have to. I should be able to press "Delete Me" or something to that effect, and I should be vanished. Bloggoggle, however, does not appear to be desiring to use my UGC or monetize me in any way, so I consider them *relative to other social networks* as rather harmless.

    Recently on, I'd filled out my profile, including a rather innocuous pic--and within a week, attracted a stalker who couldn't keep himself from signing my guestbook and sending me email signed "stay sweet" and "cya!"

    Honestly. I'm 47. And so are you. So don't sign your email "cya!"

    For the first time, I got totally scared of someone online. I took down *all* my info and emailed the Classmates folks to reduce my profile from Gold to Free. Which they did within a 24 hour period (although they weren't able to refund me for the part of my Gold membership that I wouldn't be using because of jerkweed...)But I will still be checking my credit card statement to make sure that I don't get invoiced for any more Classmates charges.

    I also went over to, where I didn't find any quick delete button for my profile--just another "customer support" email addy. Gather has lots and lots and lots of explainations of *every* *single* aspect of its site, almost ad nauseum and so much so that I gave up trying to figure out how to delete my profile pic--because I couldn't get past all the stupid-stupid (not stupid-simple) explainations about images and publishing images and why I want to publish images over there....Gather's Terms of Service were also no help when it came to figuring out how to get out of Gather....

    And then I went to Doostang--"where talent lives" (gee, I thought that was Bloggoggle...) After logging in--and I had to dig out my index card with my login information to find out what my login could be--I found that Doostang has a feature to email jobs on Facebook, and seems to be relatively active. In many ways, if I bothered to fill it out, my Doostang profile would be a lot like my LinkedIn profile, with no more of a guarantee that I'll find a job through a Doostang contact any more than I would through a LinkedIn contact....

    And while there are *plenty* of options for upgrading my Doostang membership, there's no clear and obvious way for me to delete my Doostang profile.

    Just like all my other profiles.

    So, what does all this inability to easily delete one's profile mean to me. Well, it must be just bad customer service....(Craig Newmark might think the same thing too...)

    Seriously. I'm their customer--free or not. And I should be able to delete my information without having to email someone and get my deletion approved.

    Really--it's beginning to feel like it might be easier to get divorced in here than it is to get rid of an old social networking profile.

    Is there anything we might be able to do about this? I doubt it. Not until enough of us get really peeved about it. And are we peeved about it? Not really. Not yet. Because not enough of us have suffered any consequences from it.

    Further nonsense: Bill Gates on Facebook is like a fish riding a bicycle...did anyone bother to ask Gates about his A Small World profile and if he's got a burning need to get rid of that one too? oh, come on WSJ! Gates ain't "people" like the rest of us Facebook users. Not by a long shot. So why should we care what he does with his profile?

    And because you asked, here's acct. deletion instructions from Brandee Barker @ Facebook: "There are two different ways to remove your information from Facebook. The first is to deactivate an account. Once a user deactivates the account, his or her profile becomes inaccessible on the main Facebook service, and the data is kept by Facebook only to allow easy reactivation. The second option is to delete the profile altogether. When a user deletes his or her profile, personal information -- such as name and all email addresses associated with the account -- is deleted from Facebook servers. If a user decides to join Facebook again, he or she would need to create a new profile. We are working to better explain the simple deactivation process, and to ease the deletion process for those who want their personal information removed from our servers. Additional information can be found on the Facebook help page at"

    Also take a gander at Google's Privacy Policy (or lack thereof and what it does to your gmail (thanx, Steph)

    Meanwhile, Brian Oberkirch tells businesses Really, we don't want to join your social network... and he's right...

    And as I recall I was able to delete my MySpace account (yes, I had one) awhile back without a hitch. Guess they're overloaded with UGC over there...
  • Saturday, February 02, 2008

    Google's Social Graph API: New House, Same Neighbors

    So, there's lot's o'buzz this fine saturday morning on Google's new social graph API (in a post titled URLs are People too....and as I read thru Brad Fitzpatrick's post, all I could think of is that engineers really need to get out more and learn about people....

    You see, Goog's new API is just another way to port your peeps from one network to another....and, if people truly are getting burnt out from social networking, as the comScore stats hinted at, then maybe part of that is because they're just not meeting anyone new....

    Let's look at it: there are all these nifty little social networking thingamabobs that try to sell us on how they're better than the others. Twitter is better than Facebook because it's updates in real time. Facebook is better than LinkedIn because you can let your business buddies and causal friends know what kind of music you like and if you're looking to hook up. LinkedIn is better than Plaxo because you can put in recommendations and not have to go thru crappy-assed Outlook.

    But when it all comes down to it, it's not that they make our social lives better--it's that they're just competing against one another in some kind of weird personal information land-grab.

    So, rather than giving us an opportunity to meet other people, because now other people are either "predators" or identity theives or whatever (and none of these platforms gives us any *real* way to interact with one another--Twitter being just a series of declarative statements about ourselves) what Goog wants us to be able to do is take whomever it is with us wherever we go.

    So, we essentially change our social "neighborhood" and our "house" (look at my new profile page!) AND we can take all our neighbors with us!

    Hmmm...when people are getting bored and tired of social networking, and with this new API, doesn't it seem to be that what we are doing is taking all our info from one place to another, giving it to some other software development company, never knowing how they're going to eventually use this info to make money for themselves, and NEVER improving how we actually socialize on the 'net.

    We are not being social. We are rarely, if ever, networking in the space provided (that's done before we add someone)

    We are only learning new software.

    The only writings on the whole thing that have made some sense from a software Silicon Valley perspective were Nick O'Neil's where makes a comment about Goog's trying to "out open" Facebook (never know) and Andy Beard who talks about Goog shooting itself in the foot 3 years ago with nofollow.

    But all of this is just software talk anyway. Nobody's really talking about what people really think and feel about social networking (it's fucking boring if all you're doing is taking everybody with you from one place to the next) and tiring (if all you're doing is taking everyone with you from one place to the next.)

    And that's because nobody who's developing this stuff knows a darned thing about people. All they're caring about is moving around information and beating one another at the social networking game.

    So, I'm sorry Brad, but URls aren't people. People are people. and all your graphs and crapola aren't going to make our live any more convenient or better. It's just one more thing I have to sign up for and learn if I want to keep up with the "cool kids."


    post script there's also, I'm sure, a very dark side as to what Goog might do with all our social network info if it's all maintained by one Giant. That's what's really kinda scary about this.