Thursday, March 28, 2013

Facebook knows what you “like” and probably much more

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

When I open up my Facebook page it’s no surprise that the ads in the right hand column focus on cycling, photography or music, since many of my “likes” on Facebook fall into those categories.  

But when I’ve opened Facebook lately, I’ve also noticed ads for Spokane, Washington. How does Facebook know that we’re heading to that part of the country this summer for a family wedding?

Of course, Facebook knows because my wife and I have been online looking up things about the Spokane area and Facebook knows what I do online. It’s part of their “targeted advertising strategy” as the social network looks for ways to increase advertising dollars.

But instead of just relying on what people “like” on their own pages, Facebook is now also partnering with several companies to collect valuable behavioral data. Working with companies like Acxiom, Bluekai, Datalogix and Epsilon, Facebook is getting information that ranges from spending habits and transaction information from retailers to website tracking and info from financial services companies, court records and federal government documents.

In a recent New York Times piece, Facebook’s product director for ads, Gokul Rajaram, said Facebook’s goal is to “improve the relevance of ads people see on Facebook and the efficacy of marketing campaigns.” He adds that “it’s ultimately good for the users. They get to see better, more relevant ads from brands and businesses they care about and that they have a prior relationship with.”

For businesses, and as a consumer myself, that seems to make sense. I do pay more attention to those ads that focus on products I may be interested in. But I’m a bit concerned that everything I do seems to be tracked. And, yes, I made the move to be part of Facebook to be social and to share information with “friends.” I just wonder who else is paying attention to my browsing and buying habits.

What do you think? Should I be concerned? Am I just paranoid?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

X-box Reminded Me of Something…Be Nice!

By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

The other day my son was on his X-box. He was using his headset which allows him talk to his friends and they can play together without having to physically be together. Things started out fine, but then a disagreement happened, followed by yelling, name calling and a quick end to the game.

During our talk about what happened, I asked if he was having problems with any of these same friends at school. He said no. In fact, he told me that they don't even talk about what they do on X-box at school at all. It’s like any name calling or disagreements they may have never really existed.

It then occurred to me what was going on. My son and his friends were compartmentalizing how they treat each other at school and how they treat each other while playing X-box. At school they joke around and maybe get in the occasional disagreement. But with X-box, they aren't in the same room together as they play so if any disagreement happens, they feel freer to make hurtful comments that they wouldn't normally say in person.

What this example showed me is that basic online etiquette, whether through a video game or your business Facebook page, is something often overlooked. We talk a lot about what social media platforms to use, how to gain followers and how to measure social media ROI, so it’s easy to overlook the simplest, yet most important rules of all:

Use your manners. You may not like what everyone has to say all of the time, but you do have to accept it. Be sure to respond appropriately to negative comments in a way that addresses the situation but doesn’t add fuel to the fire. If the comment is positive, say thank you. Respond to all comments within a reasonable period of time and if comments get too heated, it’s best to take the conversation offline.

Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t be willing to say to their face. As I said before, it’s easy to say whatever you want on social media because people are not held accountable for those comments. Don’t hide behind your computer. Make sure your posts are appropriate, honest and well thought out. Always keep your audience in mind.

Don’t air your dirty laundry. Your business social media accounts are to help build your brand, seek customer feedback and serve as a sales tool. It’s never acceptable to share personal feelings or views. That is what your own personal social media pages are for.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool and it’s up to us to use it responsibly. We may not see the people we are speaking to, but at the end of the day, they are people and everyone deserves basic respect. Do you have any online etiquette tips? Please share!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What's next

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Staying on the cutting edge of technology can be difficult and downright expensive with all the new gadgets and social media tools we are bombarded with continuously. The seemingly never ending launch of “new and smarter” smart phones or the latest and greatest social media sites are enough to make you say, “Enough is enough.”

First it was the iPhone. Then came its rivals so Apple created newer and faster iPhone versions. The rivals quickly caught up and, depending on who you talk to, surpassed Apple. The same is true for social media. First it was MySpace that users were truly introduced to the mass appeal of social media. Then Facebook became popular by offering users more security and privacy. People flocked to Facebook with users now exceeding one billion. The newest social media tools gaining serious traction, particularly among teens and pre-teens is Instagram and Snapshot.

All of this happened in just a few short years. Of course there are many more examples and these are just a few that most everyone is familiar with.

That’s what’s causing many individuals and business owners to question what’s next, what’s it going cost and how do I know when to stop?

There is no clear cut answer for these questions. Technology and social tools are going to continue to evolve and become more and more a part of our daily lives. That’s a given. What’s important is to understand your needs, either personal or business, and then choosing the appropriate technologies to meet those needs.

For some, the newest phone or other handheld gadget is the best fit. Others may be content with what they currently use.

For businesses, it’s important to understand how technology and social media can help you reach and interact with the audiences you want as your clients or consumers. It may not be necessary for you to purchase the latest technology when what you’re currently using would do just fine. What is important is not getting flustered to the point of doing nothing. The best approach is to have a baseline understanding of what the available technology and social media tools are and then determine whether they make sense for your situation.

Have you ever fallen into this technology conundrum? If yes, how did you best determine what was the right move?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time for a Social Media Tune-Up

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
How long have you been using social media? If your answer is “oh, forever,” then it’s time for a social media tune-up. Too often companies, and individuals, don’t take the time to do a thorough evaluation of their social media efforts on a regular basis. Sure, you might pull some metrics or take a look at the number of followers you have, but do you really know if your social media accounts are effective?  Here are some quick tips for a quick tune-up:

  • Revisit your original goals and objectives for each social media platform you’re currently using.  Have your goals changed? Does the platform continue to meet those goals? 
  •  Are you maximizing what your social media platforms can do for you? Effective social media requires more than an occasion written update. Platforms continually offer new ways to reach your target audiences, so check out what they can do and how you can maximize engagement.
  • Are you up to speed on new forms of social media? Even if you’re not going to use a newer platform, like Pinterest, you need to at least have a general understanding about it and keep tabs on what it’s being used for. The one thing that’s constant in social media is that it constantly changes.
  • Look into new measurement tools and metrics. Most social media platforms offer some form of analysis or evaluation. These measurement tools can change or are updated on a fairly regular basis.  You need to know what they can – and can’t – do. A number of companies also offer measurement services but they can be pricey.
  • Have fun with it!  If you view social media as a chore; that’s what it will become. So if you’re now slogging through those updates, brainstorm what you can do to make things interesting and fun again. Believe me, if you’re not excited about what you’re doing, no one else will be either!

So what advice do you have for those who have been using social media for a while? What other tune-up tips have helped you?