Can I call you that? I feel like you already have so much information about me that I can be pretty informal with you. Anyways, so great job with the whole Facebook thing. Being one of the most successful companies doesn’t feel too bad does it? And you (allegedly) only burned a few friends to get to it.
While I, and millions of others, enjoy using Facebook, there are several things that I think your social network needs to address in the next few years.
First, what’s up with the privacy settings? One of the most contingent things that prevents people from joining Facebook, and causes them to leave, is their privacy concerns. Your company has an extraordinary amount of information on its millions of users. One can’t help but be skeptical of the possibilities of data mining, malware, security and hacking of individual’s private information that can include phone numbers, messages, and even IP addresses. So privacy concerns should always be a top priority.
Facebook has somewhat become an online population registry that legitimizes a person, organization, business, and even pets. It seems that people might as well be nonexistent if they don’t have a Facebook profile, and if they do, they want their information to remain private, or public as the case may be.
One of the key issues with Facebook privacy is that the settings are a bit complicated, and riddled with concern. In fact, Forbes recently raised several concerns with face recognition when uploading photos. Facebook also has a history where default settings have been changed, and is then reinstated after some backlash. I guess it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness then permission right?
Facebook should strive to become a company that is open and transparent about users’ privacy and information. Let your users know exactly how their information is being used, whether its to enhance their experience, or sell them out to marketers.
Your audience isn’t dumb. In fact, those who use Facebook and social networks expect transparency and authenticity, especially with a company that is such a part of their everyday lives.
And your history of changing privacy settings, then reinstating them after backlash, or hiding settings through a ton of navigation pages… yeah… that needs to stop. A key component of attracting and retaining users is to gain their trust. And you’re not going to do that with semi-shady and secretive business tactics. Be open. Be honest.
A second change that I recommend is that Facebook focus on creating communities and promoting social causes. One of the key uses of Facebook is drawing attention to causes and creating social change. There are numerous examples of how Facebook has been a tool for good, so why not make it more accessible? Show how many people are connected to a cause, make it easier to mobilize thousands, and add a fundraising component.
Lastly, add some simple changes to make using Facebook easier and more convenient:
- Take a page from Google or Twitter and create lists and groups of people. Sorting through 5,000 friends’ updates is time-consuming, so creating groups or feeds solely for work, businesses, news, etc. would be helpful.
- On that note, get rid of the 5,000 friends limit. The more connections, the better right?
- Add components that act like a personal assistant including reminders, calendars, appointments, syncing schedules, etc.
- Allow businesses and organizations to edit their pages and ads, which has always remained fairly standard
- Let users shop directly from businesses Facebook pages by adding a purchasing and payment option
- Limit a users’ post to ten a day; any more than that, the account should be deactivated (kidding of course, although that might help people who need to learn boundaries).
- Create a way to reply to comments so that users’ can see a conversation or when someone replies to their comment.
- Incorporate email into Facebook profiles instead of messaging, which is a bit clunky and hard to manage.
- Allow users to personalize their profiles including background images, text colors, etc. The plain blue and white is just not as much fun.
- Finally, post more cat videos:
Of course, these are just several options that Facebook can look at to improve user experience. Whatever you choose to do with Facebook in the next few years, it’s important to keep your millions of users in mind. And while your company continues to grow at a rapid place, it can just as quickly decline if Facebook is not authentic and transparent.
In the ten years since I’ve moved to Wichita, I’ve always been impressed with the local media. Most local television stations have a clear idea of their audience, what interests them, and what’s most relevant to them. As a result, every night we get a variety of local news that mixes events, crimes, politics, and soft news.
There are a handful of news organizations in Wichita, including television and radio outlets. Admittedly, I don’t listen or watch most of them. To be honest, I get most of my local news through Twitter. I know, I feel like such a millennial writing that, but it’s the truth. I hardly have time to actually sit down and read the news, especially local news, so I look to Twitter for breaking news. And between the traffic reports and latest events, I think most of the organizations are doing a great job.
I began following many local news organizations on Twitter. Like many, I turn to Wichita news organizations for local news coverage, not national or international news. Most seemed to update regularly, and there are definite differences between each social media strategy.
First, I think it’s important to know what makes a news organization successful on social media. Do we expect these organizations to interact with its readers online? Are social networks an addition to on-air news reports? Or should organizations just report the headlines?
From what I see on Twitter, Wichita news organizations are taking all of these approaches. For example, KNSS (@knssradio) solely tweets headlines. This is great for their followers, who tend to listen to their station for news headlines. KNSS concentrates more on news in Kansas and surrounding areas such as Kansas City. They tweet regularly about every couple of hours, so it’s consistent with how people check the news, which is every once in a while. KNSS doesn’t seem to interact with its followers or anyone else.
Kake News (@kakenews) seems to use Twitter more as an addition to their on-air reports. While Kake does tweet the day’s headlines, they also refer to their newscast or website for more information about a story. Kake also retweets the messages or reports from their reporters, as well as responds to questions from followers. What Kake doesn’t do however, is start interaction or conversations. It might benefit them, since their audience is generally loyal to their channel, to interact and field questions on Twitter to gauge what the audience wants to see, or their opinions and thoughts about certain segments.
The Wichita Eagle (@kansasdotcom) also tweets headlines, and retweets their reporters just like Kake does. The Eagle, however provides a much more interactive communication between them and their followers. Just reading the timeline for the Eagle, one can see how the interaction is much deeper because their followers talk conversationally with the account. It seems more like a community that provides two-way conversations, as opposed to just pushing headlines. They also add plenty of photos and cover all sorts of news from breaking to weather. The eagle also does an interesting thing by letting reporters cover special court cases for minute-to-minute coverage. For example, @StanFinger covers crimes so he is often the one live tweeting from court cases that are interesting and important to readers.
From what I’ve studied this semester, I think the core of social media is interaction. Interaction with audience members, and followers, can truly cultivate a community. And this is especially important for local news organizations that are competing with national and international news organizations. People turn to local news organizations for just that, local news. So these organizations should focus on that, and cater to what their audience is interested in.
Like I stated earlier, most of the organizations on Twitter are great at reporting the local news, but they’re different from each other based on the interaction. For example, KNSS listeners are not like Wichita Eagle readers. They would rather prefer to just get the headlines without opinion, so the KNSS Twitter stream works great for them. Wichita Eagle readers like to interact more, so they prefer to talk and add to the Wichita Eagle Twitter stream.
I would say that the Wichita Eagle is doing the best job on Twitter because I prefer their community interaction. I think social media networks, especially Twitter, are built for community interaction so it’s a great place for news organizations to get readers’ opinions and ideas about their local news report. Overall though, the local news organizations that are on Twitter are probably aware of what their audience is looking for by now, so catering to your audience, no matter how different, is the key to a successful social media account.
“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.” – Marshall McLuhan
Media is changing. I don’t have to tell you that. You already know because we see the changes everyday: people reading tablets instead of newspapers, watching shows on smart phones instead of a television set. With technology growing at such a rate, is it any wonder that news media has changed?
Think about it. How do you know what’s going on around the world? I have a friend who solely reads headlines through tweets and Facebook statuses. My boss likes to scroll through his tablet to check business news. Mr. Henderson down the street rocks it old school with a newspaper. You get the idea. We read and consume news in different ways, but how does that effect media?
The Pew Research Center’s for Excellence in Journalism releases an annual State of the Media report. This report discussed how newspapers have adapted to technological changes as well as a crumbling economy.
Pew reported that newsrooms are now 30% smaller than in 2000. Ownership has changed with seven of the top 25 U.S. newspapers are owned by hedge funds. News, in the traditional sense, has become more of a commodity, with news and old news organizations still producing the content that audiences consume.
The way they consume it has added a new layer of complexity that ultimately connects the content to consumers. More importantly, 41% of people reported using the Internet for their international and national news, which is up a high 17% from last year; an astonishing change that newspapers must adapt to.
“In a media world where consumers decide what news they want to get and how they want to get it, the future will belong to those who understand the public’s changing behavior and can target content and advertising to snugly fit the interests of each other.”
Of course, this does not just apply to newspapers, but any media in general. The Internet has already changed our daily habits, how we consume media, and how we connect with each other. But what will media look like in the future?
The Future According to Brogan
Chris Brogan, a well-known author and speaker on social media marketing had several ideas about the future of media. He posted his ideas on his blog and I think they are on point with how media will change.
According to Brogan, media will be:
- Rich data minded
- Faster with longer burn
We already see some of these changes. Media is already multi-touch, as in multiple ways to consume media including video, graphics, audio, and games. These multiple touch points to consume news will allow many different kinds of people to absorb the same media. For example, a more visual person enjoys seeing photographs of an event, while someone else would like to view a video of it, or read about it. In essence, multi-touch media will provide multiple ways to consume the same news. In fact, it already has.
Brogan predicts that we will not only consume media through our mobile phones, but will also create it there. Take for instance “cell phone journalists” who can record newsworthy events at a moments notice.
Which brings us to serial media. Brogan believes that there are two types of media “first news” and “full news.” A great example of this would be the death of Osama Bin Laden. The news broke first on social networks and grew exponentially until the President’s announcement. Then newspapers and newscasts gave the full story the following morning.
One of the things that “works” with social media is that it encourages conversations and works as a two-way mode, and media will be no different. It’ll not only report the news, but ask readers to contribute to opinions, ideas, and debates. Just see the comment section on any article.
Rich minded data means that it won’t be static. “We’ll have stories, fiction and otherwise, that pull elements from the world around us,” says Brogan. And those stories will be subscription-based.
He ends with a statement that I think is spot-on with the future of media, “We’ll have a lot more connection with media hitting us the moment something happens, but then it’ll have a longer time line to getting completely explained.”
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
“… the most wonderful public communication system imaginable, a gigantic system of channels… capable not only of transmitting but of receiving, not of isolating [the user], but connecting [the user]. Users of this technology could leap around the world [and wipe] out for all time the age-old barriers of race and language and distance.”
This technology was not about the Internet, but the radio. In his book Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet, Graham Meikle “chronicles and critiques the tactical strikes of hactivists, culture jammers, and other mutant free radicals who [sic] are putting the Internet to political use.”
Decades later, the parallels with the Internet are striking. The new medium has tremendous potential for social change. It has power to revitalize democracy, empower us, and create a new public sphere for information.
While the promises of this media change were grandiose in the beginning, the Internet has rapidly become a place that can organize, unite, and empower any cause.
Take for instance Occupy Wall Street, which was essentially created, organized, and motivated by social media. And while most of conventional media does not cover the hundreds of activists who have been camped out in protest of corporate greed for weeks, the Occupy Wall Street community is reporting the news. A simple Twitter search for #OWS and thousands of Tweets provide minute-by-minute coverage of what’s happening on the streets, and effectively chronicling the start of a movement.
There are many more examples of activism media including the It Gets Better Project, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Anonymous, NOH8, and thousands of other causes and campaigns that are created on social media for social change.
Of course, the Internet is not the only vehicle for new media; it has become an increasingly crucial part of a broader media, especially when it comes to activism, even if it’s not the only one. Most of these other cases rely on the Internet, but they also rely no the more established or traditional media including newspapers to provide information to their cause, and television to promote it. The more successful campaigns know that they need a mix of media to work.
To Infinity and Beyond
There are many forms of news media, and as these mediums continue to change and grow, it’s important to understand the effects of the changes. Two communication scholars who have long explained our changing modes of communication and media are completely relevant to the future of news media.
Walter Ong, who wrote Orality and Literacy (1982), famously looked at how the shift from an oral-based stage of consciousness to one dominated by writing and print changes the way we humans think. He calls the electronic modes of communication (e.g., television and telephones) the second orality. It’s important to note that Ong suggests that future knowledge of the differences between orality and literacy might produce new and interesting insights into our interpretation of literature, and enrich already familiar types of literary criticism.
In the same vein, Marshall McCluhan wrote in his media ecology book, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), suggests that communication technology affects our cognitive organization.
“…[I]f a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture,” states McCluhan.
McCluhan’s “medium is the message” does not refer to the channel in which the content is delivered, is more important than itself. Instead, the medium is more of an extension, and technological advances in society feature a domino effect, in which one change leads to another. The message is not the content delivered, but rather the changes that this medium brings to the society that uses it.
This is what we have to look forward to when anticipating the future of news media. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I’m glad I’m along for the ride.
Not too long ago I Googled “fall fashion trends” and within milliseconds more than 18 million results were found. Of course, I only looked at the first page, which included major coverage by Style, Glamour, Elle, and Oprah.
However, my favorite fashion blog, What I Wore, was nowhere to be seen (probably because it was on the 55th results page- a place that might as well not exist). For Jessica, the writer of that blog, Google is not likely to send users to her blog, certainly not with those broad search terms.
Thanks to the power of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines, a simple web search has quickly become a word war. Websites are doing all they can to increase traffic, and views to their sites by utilizing search engine optimization (SEO).
According to Brian Solis in his book Engage!, SEO increases the visibility of content, site, and destinations within traditional search. In other words, SEO is a set of methodologies that ultimately makes it easier for search engines to find, include, categorize, and rank your web content.
If you ask Brandi Koskie, managing editor of DietsInReview.com, she’ll tell you SEO is a daily part of her job. Diets in Review (DIR) is a great website that includes original articles and reviews about healthy living. Because DIR does not use traditional advertising mediums, 85% of their traffic is organic meaning they rely on search results to direct traffic to their site. To get traffic to the site, DIR knows they need to be in the top results for searches involving certain diets, recipes, etc. In other words, search engine optimization is crucial to their site.
Brandi briefly discussed how a search engine, specifically Google, has an algorithm that displays results based on content from a site. In order to get be one of the first results that Google displays, there are certain things a site administrator can do to increase their chances.
Lou Heldman put it best when he described search engines as gatekeepers to web users. Your website must do certain things to appease the search engines in order to gain access to web users as top results.
Brandi, being the social media guru that she is, and lets face it she really is. This is the woman who started her family online with a blog when blogs were relatively new.
Here are some of her SEO tips:
- Make sure your URL is clear and easy to remember
- Content is king – without it, you’re just spinning wheels
- Create original and new content or designs frequently
- Link to other credible sources and sites (Google really likes this)
- Cut out some of the ads to your site, it makes your site less spam-y
- Increase in-bound links, which are links to your site, within your content and from other credible sites
- Balance user experience with SEO
- Avoid duplicating content from other sites
- Front-load titles with the most valuable keywords
- Anchor text needs to be strong, and link to somewhere relevant
- Meta tags, image name, etc. should be clean and descriptive
One of the key take-aways that I wanted to discuss is about content. While adding new content to your site may seem obvious, not enough companies are doing it. Adding new content frequently tells Google that the site is new and relevant, not outdated, especially original content.
Also, the more articles or content you post; it increases the sites chances of being seen. While creating new content frequently is a bit troublesome, its relevance is extremely important not just for SEO, but for your company as well. Who wants to visit a site with dated information?
Brandi mentioned how she had very little knowledge of SEO before she started her position with DIR. Of course, with search engines growing, SEO is certainly going to become a necessary part of any marketer’s job.
While you can buy ads on Google, search results are much more likely to be seen and clicked, which make them more profitable in the long run. A company who designates a budget for online advertisements should also designate a budget for SEO, whether that’s training or paying someone to improve it. Search engine optimization is all about marketing your company to the public in our web-heavy culture. It just happens to take place online. I think SEO will eventually become a ubiquitous way to market online content.
So for me, it’s not if I can see myself doing what Brandi does, it’s when.