The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Facebook and the Myth of Privacy–Guest Post by Simon Ogden June 4, 2010

Filed under: Guest post,Marketing with Facebook,social media — Simon Ogden @ 6:22 am

By Simon Ogden

When Facebook began its relentless grind towards establishing itself as the central hub of the internet I was just about as skeptical and reactive to the idea as they came. Despite being what is now commonly called an ‘early adopter’ in the world of social media – in my particular niche of the independent arts world, anyhow – it took me quite a while to start a Facebook account. I had jumped into blogging as soon as I could decide on a topic, and right after that I was tweeting away despite the scorn and derision of those around me who were sure it was just all “I like pie, nom nom nom” and nothing else, but FB seemed to me to be a bit insular. Now that I’m on it I get the use of it, of course, but I still think its worth as a business tool is limited to mostly client and fan support rather than growth and outreach, due to the fact that it remains the one network client best suited to keeping published content – our thoughts, pictures, opinions – reigned in to the smallest amount of audience. Our “friends”. It remains the insular paddock of the internet.

Maybe this is why so many people are losing their minds over the topic of Facebook “privacy” lately. Let’s put some perspective on the matter.

You’ll notice I used quotation marks around both the words “friends” and “privacy” just then. This much-misused literary device is used here not to emphasize, but to denote ironic detachment. This, dear friends, is what the post-modern digital age of instant communication has done to these two words that heretofore described our most dearly-held rights from the early days of our respective childhoods. “Friend” no longer means those seven or eight people that you feel most comfortable around, it also means those 371 people that you “added” to your account. And “privacy”? Well, whatever that term used to mean, it doesn’t quite shoehorn into a life spent a great deal of online.

It is important for everyone who uses a computer in order to access the World Wide Web to get clear on one very stark reality of that choice: nothing, absolutely zero % of what you put onto the thing, is private. Sorry. If someone wants to get information on you badly enough, and you’ve put it on a computer somewhere, they can get it. The internet is, in fact, fueled by accessibility. This, in a nutshell, is what is causing a gigantic wave of panic among some Facebook users when they hear that privacy settings are being changed. Again, and again, and again. I see the backlash everywhere, mostly in my news feed from my Facebook “friends”. “Boo, privacy changes, identity theft, instant personalization, boo, (copy and paste in your status)”, on and on. There was some media attention recently on a group that started a “Quit Facebook Day” movement, (note: it is estimated that 31,000 out of the current 450 million Facebook users quit Facebook on May 31–Rebecca) saying in the opening paragraph of their web site:

Facebook gives you choices about how to manage your data, but they aren’t fair choices, and while the onus is on the individual to manage these choices, Facebook makes it damn difficult for the average user to understand or manage this. We also don’t think Facebook has much respect for you or your data, especially in the context of the future.

I don’t think the person who wrote this has much respect for your ability to understand things, nor for your ability to decide what is and isn’t fair. The site goes on to suggest that if Facebook continues to adapt to the ever-changing rules of online engagement and make changes, then it will make the internet somehow “unsafe”. Elaboration isn’t offered, just the vague assertion that harm will come to you. It’s pretty blatant fear-mongering, but it is a fairly concise summation of most people’s privacy concerns with the site. “We’re not really sure what all these changes mean, but we’re pretty sure they’re Evil. Why can’t they just leave it alone?”

I do not share these concerns. But I had no misconceptions of the reach of my social media presence from the git-go, so that probably helps. It has honestly never occurred to me to put something on the internet that I would be ashamed of, or that would compromise the security of someone I care about. It seems there are a great deal of people whose stress level would be helped by adopting this policy. And they should probably let go of the sense of entitlement that lets them use someone else’s program and then dictate to them how they should operate it. The people behind Facebook aren’t evil, they want to make some money by providing a handy service. The price you pay to take advantage of this service is that they target some ads towards you based on your freely provided information, like pretty much every other company on the planet. That’s it, that’s the extent of their evil plans, yet some people insist on treating it like they’re one step away from coming for our children in the dead of night. Do you really care if the name of the city that you live in is floating around the internet? Or that you like horses? What are these people putting out there that they’re so scared of it falling into the wrong hands?

I believe the very concept of losing control of their personal information, no matter how insignificant or banal, is what they’re terrified of. These people are not ready for the world of new media. The way we deal with information has changed forever, never to return. And it happened very fast; speed is a byproduct of technology, which is now the world’s hottest commodity. We reside in a new age, one built upon a foundation of sharing and collaboration facilitated by electronic networks, and it is built upon the rubble of the old paradigm of hoarding information and a doomed “us against them” aesthetic. We have nothing to compare it to, because information has never been shared like this before, in the history of mankind. If the vehicles of this revolution – like Facebook and twitter and email – make you uncomfortable, opt out. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just because they’re doing it. Everyone else probably isn’t as worried as you are about somebody overhearing what they say when they’re out in a public place.

Besides, you can always see for yourself how well you, the average user, understands Facebook’s privacy controls.

Simon Ogden is a playwright and blogger (The Next Stage) who currently resides in Victoria, BC. We miss you, Si!

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Offline Techniques to Grow Your Online Presence May 24, 2010

Last week, I wrote a post, inspired by a question from Kristi Fuoco:

I was just wondering if you’d ever thought of writing a blog post about promoting social media through print and other methods. Do you think it’s effective, worth it? I’ve just been noticing more and more businesses lately that have been advertising their twitter, facebook etc. on posters, business cards, flyers and have been wondering whether or not to do it and thought you might have some thoughts on this.

Today, I’m offering some specific tips on how to promote your social media presence, offline.

1. Before you start to promote offline, make sure your on-line is solid. That means having a good website or blog (you need to pick something to be the centre of operations, the place that you want your other “arms” to lead back to), a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, and whatever else works for you: LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.. Make sure you are updating all of these on a fairly regular basis, and they are all linked to each other.

2. If you have a physical business, make a sign and put it where folks can see it: in the window, by the cash register, etc. Instead of just saying “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!” and listing your usernames for those, sweeten the pot: that means offering special “Facebook exclusive” or “Twitter exclusive” discounts or specials. Remember, these specials can act like a coupon code, so they are trackable, which is useful to you.

3. If you have an online business, make sure you have a business card, or some kind of leave behind with your social media information on it. You may want to use a tool like Telnic, which creates a single, simple URL (ie: http://rebeccacoleman.tel), which people can go to and find all of your links from there. A couple of other options are flavors.me, (thanks @shamelesshussy for that one). Again, sweeten the pot by offering exclusive information via these channels.

4. Host a meetup or a tweetup: A tweetup is an off-line, in-person meeting of folks who met through Twitter. Usually, they are tied together by some theme or common interest. For example, here in Vancouver, we have a Vancouver Theatre Tweetup (#yvrttu), and there are a million more. Say for example, you are the owner of a specialty wine shop. You could search for wine tweetups in your city, offer to host one, and maybe even offer some tastings. Go to Meetup.com to see what kind of meetups and tweetups are happening in your city. Niche marketing at its very best!

5. Foursquare promotions: Foursquare is a game/social media interface. Essentially, you sign up for an account, and then every time you go somewhere, a restaurant, school, the library, the gym, you use your phone to “check in.” If you have it connected to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, Foursquare posts to Facebook and Twitter automatically where you are. If you visit one place more than anyone else in that month, you get to be the “mayor” of that place, or you unlock badges for trying new things. One way to use Foursquare for business is to offer discounts and deals to Foursquare users: you will, in essence, be rewarding your best customers. For example, something free each month to the “mayor” of your business, or a discount for every 10 checkins. For more information on how to use Foursquare for business, click here.

6. Tweetup + Foursquare = Swarm: If 50 people on Foursquare check in all at the same place, that’s called a swarm. It comes with its own badges, and the possibilities of using this for theatre, concerts, or other larger-venue events is very interesting.

7. Create a flashmob: Flashmobs may be one of the coolest things to emerge from social media. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a flashmob is:  a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse. Originally, they were created just to bring some fun and surprise into the everyday lives of passers-by, but they have grown into an interesting marketing tool.  This past March 27, World Theatre Day, we created a Footloose Flashmob, which took place in Waterfront Station, a busy bus/train/seabus station in downtown Vancouver. It was both to promote World Theatre Day, and production of Footloose that was currently running. I have heard of folks doing scenes from Shakespeare on public transit, dances, pillow fights, and on and on and on. I’ll leave you with this one from Steppenwolf in Chicago:

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What’s your Facebook Page Worth? May 21, 2010

Yeah, yeah, social media this, social media that. Easy for you to say, right? But does it sell tickets/paintings/CDs?

I still can’t prove the direct correlation all the time. No one can. But I wanted to share with you a new tool that has just come out that puts and actual dollar value on your Facebook page.

Using the valuation of 1 fan=$3.70 in real money, the lovely people at Vitrue created this social media evaluator.

Here’s mine:

My fan page is an asset worth $356 annually, but it has the potential to be worth nearly $1000. You can take some measures to make this happen: adding more fans, and creating more fan interactions, for example.

I was curious to compare my little fan page with one that was really big, so I ran the evaluator on the Sex and the City (come on, May 27!) page. Here is the result:

Interesting, hey?

Try yours.

Caveat: this ONLY works on Fan pages, not groups or personal profiles. Also, your fan page’s settings need to be as open as possible, and not restricted in any way by age or country.

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Social Media Marketing Offline May 19, 2010

I talk a lot about social media marketing: tips, how-tos, etc. But a new and increasingly interesting field of social media marketing is taking place off line, in the real world.

So, I’ve been doing some research on the topic, and here’s what I’m finding out:

Tracking social media hits is really challenging. A great deal of the resistance of businesses, in particular, to starting social media marketing is because it’s hard to prove the ROI. What I mean by that is, “If I have a facebook page, how many tickets will I sell?” It’s hard to prove, because of the ripple effect of social media. If I send out an invitation to a show, I know who that invitation goes to. But any one of those folks could pass it on to their friends, or their friends’ friends, and so the people that actually show up at my theatre may be the 3rd or 4th generation (or more) of that invitation.

This is part of the reason why I love social media so much, but it does make it difficult to track where people are coming from.

Using social media offline can help to track where people are coming from. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I saw an ice cream place on Twitter post a tweet that said they would be offering a 1/2 price discount on ice cream for the first 10 minutes after the Canucks scored a goal. So, if the Canucks score a goal, and someone comes in and asks for 1/2 price ice cream, you know that person is on your Twitter feed.

Another reason why social media marketing offline is starting to catch on is because of the prevalence of smart phones. Nearly everyone I know has an IPhone or a Blackberry these days. If you see a sign like this, for example:

You can immediately go to your smartphone, go on the internet or to your Facebook app, and “like” this business. And people “like” to get exclusive social media offers–which for the business is a win-win, because it offers an option to track where that business came from.

Our smartphones also make it really easy for us to offer immediate reviews. A while ago, when I went to buy a futon, and drove across town to find the store closed, even though I was there within the opening hours clearly posted, I immediately twittered the #fail. The opposite is true for positive reviews: great meals, extra special service, etc.

Online relationships lead to real-life meetings

Last week, I published my very first e-newsletter. In it, I talked about the experience I had at Northern Voice. Briefly, I argued that social media is not killing face-to-face relationships, but, in fact, strengthening them. You see, we get to know people online, and when we meet them in real life, it’s less awkward, and we already know things about each other, so it’s easier to find something to talk about. Many of these online relationships are leading to real-life meetings, or Tweetups. That’s when a bunch of folks who all follow each other on Twitter, and have something in common, meet in real life for coffee or a drink.

Stay tuned… I’m working on a post with tips about how to use social media marketing offline.

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How to add a “Review” Tab to your FB Page May 4, 2010

If you are an artist with a fan page, you may wish to add a “Review” tab to your page. This allows the people who buy your CD, come to your show, or attend your exhibition to write their own reviews of your work.

1. In order for this to work, you need to have a page, not a group.

2. Go to this link for the Review application.

3. Like the application, and then click “Add to My Page” which is directly beneath the applications’ profile pic.

4. A window will pop up with a list of all of the pages you administrate, choose the page you want to add the review tab to.

5. Go back to your page.

6. The Review tab should now be in your tabs. However, if you have a lot of tabs, it might be quite far down, where no one can see it. You should be able to drag and drop it into a more prominent position.

7. Invite people to visit your page and review your work!

In our world, where sites that allow every day people to write reviews are getting more and more popular (think Yelp!), this can be a really powerful tool. And for us in the arts, in the face of cutbacks at newspapers that in the past have reviewed our work, I think it has really great potentinal to help us connect with our audience.

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Facebook and Twitter Updates April 28, 2010

If you’ve been on Facebook this week, you might have noticed this:

If you have a fan page, this change will affect you. Fan pages, in essence, don’t really exist any more. They’ll just be called “pages.” What’s the difference between “Becoming a fan” and “Liking” something? Facebook’s argument is that using the “like” feature makes things consistent across Facebook. If you have a personal profile, you have no doubt used the “like” function: it’s a kind of virtual thumbs-up or high-five when someone posts a status update that you like.

What’s the upshot? Well, I can be a little liberal with my “like”ing. I’m not as liberal with my “fanning.” Facebook seems to think that this change will increase users’ interaction with businesses who have pages. My feeling is, that numbers of what used to be “fans” will climb much quicker with the new system.

The other thing that is new about this system, and this part I think is pretty cool, is that it opens up Facebook to the web. You can, now, for example, but a Facebook Box in the sidebar of your website or blog, and one “Like” click will lead the user back to Facebook and make them your “Fan.” You can also install the “Like” button on every blog post you write, and if someone “Likes” your blog post, it will show up in their status updates (if they have opted in to allow FB to do this). This could really help to bring traffic to your website or blog–others may see it and click on the link.

To install the Like Box, go here to create the code: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box
Here’s a screen capture that shows you how to install it on your blog.

You can also install a “Like” button on your blog that will automatically be added to each blog post and page. This will add a little box to the bottom of that post saying that you “like” it. To do this, just do a search under Plugins–>Add new.

Here’s a more comprehensive explanation (thanks to @thenextstagemag)

Note that your WordPress blog MUST be self-hosted. They haven’t yet come up with a widget for WordPress hosted blogs that makes this simple. To see what this looks like, go to my website.

Twitter introduces the “ReTweet” button.

Late last year, Twitter introduced an automatic Retweet button. In the past, if you wanted to RT someone, you had to copy the tweet, then past it into your update, and precede it by RT@{person’s name that originated the tweet}. Now, you simply click the RT button, and it does it for you.

If you are following more than 200 people, you should probably not be using the Twitter interface. You should look into using another Twitter platform, like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or Seesmic.

I’m not crazy about this feature. I often like to comment on RTs, if there’s room. The other thing I don’t like about the new system is that Twitter has made away with the @ part of the RT, so it doesn’t show up in my @ replies. In order for me to know if someone RTed me, I have to log into my Twitter account via the Twitter interface and check. Which I never do, because I use Seesmic.

Now you’re up to date with the hottest news in social networking.

I’ll leave you with the latest statistics: Facebook currently is pushing 400 Million users Worldwide, and Twitter just passed 106 Million.

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Using a calendar to plan your social media April 14, 2010

Last month I wrote a post where I encouraged you to commit to a blogging schedule and I promised that it would pay off.

Today, I want to share with you how I help people to plan thier social media (I use this method myself!).

First of all, you need to decide which social media you want to participate in. For many people, this, in and of itself, is overwhelming. There are five main ones:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Photosharing (ie: Flickr)

You can decide based on how much time you have to commit to marketing your business with social media. But remember, there will always be a greater time commitment at the beginning, as you get everything set up and working. Blogging takes the greatest amount of time, probably 2-5 hrs/wk, depending on how often you post. Facebook and Twitter can be easily manged in 15 minutes a day. YouTube and Flickr could take more time, because of the editing process.

You can also make this decision based on what’s easiest. Many people begin their foray into social media with Facebook, because it’s the one they are most familiar with, and they are probably already on it with a personal account, and familiar with the interface. I encourage people to take things slow–to not jump into everything at once. Start with one, get comfortable with it, then move on to the next once you feel you’ve conquered it.

Next, get a calendar and create a schedule. Remember, all of your social media should feed into your other social media, and be connected to your website. The whole point is to drive traffic back to your website where people can find out more information about who you are and what you do, and to contact you if they like.

Here is an example of mine:

I set aside a couple of hours every saturday morning to write my blog posts for the week, then I schedule them in. After the post goes up, it automatically is posted to Facebook via Networked Blogs, and I also post it to Twitter (which you could also have done automatically.) On days when I don’t have a blog post going up on Facebook, I try to share a link that I’ve enjoyed on my Facebook fan page, and I like to retweet links on Twitter whenever I find something interesting.

The key to having a social media strategy is to plan out some things you want to post, but to also be flexible about posting things that you discover during your day that you like, and might be interesting to other people.

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