Monthly Archives: June 2013

#Hashtags on Facebook

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It isn’t a secret that Facebook usage has been steadily decreasing throughout the past years as Twitter’s popularity continues to increase.  Capitalizing on Twitter’s business plan, this month Facebook introduced hashtags, Instagram’s 15-second video clip, and a new ad structure that will eliminate more than half of sponsored ads.  While the new ad structure and Instragram videos are good ways to keep up with competition, hashtags on Facebook might not be. 

There is no question that hashtags have been immensely successful on Twitter becoming a social media and PR/ advertising staple to create trends and generate buzz.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that other social media sites would want to cash in on this function.  Facebook users have been posting status with hashtags for months, despite the face that hashtags were not linked to anything.  Now that Facebook has decided to utilize hashtags there are several problems with it. 

There is a reason why hashtags have been so successful on Twitter.  Twitter has a 140-character count.  This means that you can only use 3 or 4 hashtags in a tweet before you run out of space.  This draws more attention to those specific hashtags.  Facebook, on the other hand, has unlimited space which means #hashtagsfordaysss. Letting users post unlimited hashtags means the power and purpose of the hashtag is lost in a sea of endless characters. 

Another problem is that hashtags do not have any privacy settings.  This means that anyone can view your hashtags.  This is great for businesses that want to gain a larger audience through Facebook.  However, this is bad news for people that constantly put hashtags on their personal Facebook accounts just for fun.  Not only are new hashtags linked together, but old hashtags people or businesses might have posted are now linked. This means if you hashtagged something you shouldn’t have, you need to go back and delete it. 

Hashtags are also not available on mobile devices.  This posses a significant problem as mobile technology is increasingly become the communication method of choice.  Facebook has always been on the slower end of updating their software to be compatible with mobile technology, unlike Twitter which some people might remember started out as a SMS messaging system before going on the Internet. This means that consumers will not be able to click on the hashtags through their smartphones, and PR/ Marketing teams can’t hashtag on the go. 

Finally, there is no clear way of filtering hashtags.  Unlike Twitter, Facebook businesses and personal users do not know which hashtags are trending which makes looking for reach slightly more difficult.  Now it’s definitely not impossible to find out how many hashtags your business or event got, but you have to go on Twitter or even Yahoo to find out if your hashtag is trending.  Even then you don’t know if it was trending on Facebook. 

Now there are positives to having hashtags on Facebook. Businesses can now go and search the hashtag they created for a specific event and find how many hashtags they got.  Before it was extremely difficult to find buzz about a businesses event on Facebook.  However, a set back is that you cannot find out if that hashtag has been used before.  Also, with the lack of privacy hashtags have businesses are able to reach out to a larger and potential untapped audience via Facebook.  Hashtag specific advertisements are soon to follow which can help businesses advertise even more.  This will help replace pesky and sometimes too personal sidebar advertisements.

Most of these problems, aside from the unlimited character space, pose only minor setbacks for Facebook, especially since the hashtag has only been available for a week. These things can be solved with software updates. However, as Facebook becomes more like Twitter the question I have is, what’s the point? If Facebook continues to morph into Twitter, why have two Twitters? 

– Niki Perri

@neperri

Will Vine Bring Back the Video Clip?

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This week Twitter released an Android version for the increasingly popular video-sharing app Vine.  For those of you that don’t know, Vine is a mobile app that allows its users to create videos and share them on Vine’s online platform or on Twitter.  Videos are a mash-up of six-second video clips on a loop, like GIFs, that play automatically. As of this week it has surpassed Instagram and is now the second-most downloaded free app. What does this mean for social media?

In the recent years social media has seen a shift from videos and video sharing sites to pictures.  In 2006 video sharing giant YouTube was bought by Google and became one of the most popular social media sites on the web.  Then the Internet began a shift from videos to pictures as social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and now SnapChat were born.  It looked like video was dying. Pictures are easier to take, faster to upload and take about two seconds to look at.  Video didn’t seem to have a chance.

Why Vine works? Vine videos are short and load automatically to hold the attention of the viewers. Vine’s platform is user friendly and similar to the ever-popular Instagram.  Videos can load without sound, which makes them easy to watch in public places.

What are potential problems?  Since this app is in its early stages there are many glitches that the program is still experiencing.  Vine has no video-editing software available. This app is easy to use but not as easy as snapping a picture and uploading it on Instagram.  This app can only be used with an iPhone or Android, which limits content creation opportunities. Also, the app deletes any uploaded content that is longer than six seconds or larger than 1 MB.  Finally, one of the biggest problems is that since Twitter owns the app there is no censorship.  That means that pornographic videos are already running rampant on Vine, which could affect which businesses chose to use it.

Vine’s increasing popularity begs the question will the platform bring back the video clip?  There is no question that Vine’s commercial success will be met with fellow video sharing competitors looking to cash in on the market.  That means you can expect new sites similar to Vine and more short video clips on the Internet.  Google co-founders just announced this week that they are creating video sharing site similar to Vine that will be released in the next coming months.  They have already started testing their app in China.

How will this help businesses and their public relations efforts? Vine will no doubt be a nice addition to brand social media campaigns.  Its power is catching on quickly.  PR agencies are already seeing the value in short video clips as a means of marketing a product.  Even though the videos are short, potentially too short, businesses and PR agencies can rest assured that consumers will watch the video to the end.  With the endless loop feature there’s a good chance that they will watch the video multiple times.  This means that brands can creatively tell stories that they know their consumer will watch.  Another great feature is that businesses that are not widely known or do not sell products to the everyday person can create short educational/ how-to videos to gain a positive image among the general public.  Also, other social media platforms, like LinkedIn are using Vine to give a six-second tour of what happens in its offices. This helps build workplace culture and gets the consumer to trust the brand.  It can also help educate viewers about what your business does and what new product or services they can expect from your brand.

Whether Vine lasts or ends us as Internet history, for the immediate future we can expect the Internet to be filled with entertaining six-second video clips or how-to videos, brand campaigns and general hijinks.

– Niki Perri

@neperri

Line for Heaven — forming on the Internet now

Just when I thought the Internet couldn’t get any more outrageous, I ran across a social media site — Line for Heaven — that aims to teach people that "Religion can be fun!"  And it claims to help answer that fundamental question many of us ask, "Am I going to Heaven?"

Users upload their “soul” (a photo of themselves) and then go about gathering Karma Points to prove their “worthiness” for entry to heaven. Souls gain points by repenting sins, blessing others/getting blessed, promoting a social cause and getting friends to join the site. For those who just can’t wait, Instant Karma Points can be purchased at 10 for a dollar.  There is also a “Soul-to-Soul” messaging feature that lets you privately communicate with other would-be angels.

Each Sunday is Judgment Day when the soul with the week’s most Karma Points becomes an angel and is inducted into heaven. That honor includes a congratulatory banner shown atop the site for the rest of the week with heaven’s newest angel’s name on it.

About now are you wondering if your pet can join you in heaven? Well, luckily for pet lovers everywhere the site encourages you to upload a profile of your pet so he or she can qualify for entry.

And the Internet version of heaven still needs to make money, right? For only $100 businesses can advertise their products and services in the form of Temptations.  All angels will be sorely tempted to check out the ads as each Temptation clicked earns five more Karma Points.

Line for Heaven was created so people could connect, share their hopes and foster religious dialogue and tolerance in a safe space. I can’t think of a safer place than the nameless, faceless Internet. Yet, while this site was started with good intentions it makes a mockery of religion at every turn. Even the layout of the site looks like a pesky pop-up Internet ad. To quote an old saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Save the good deeds for the real world, not the Internet.

– Niki Perri

@neperri