Monday, April 25, 2011

Revision: Tunerfish not catching on

I should begin by noting how badly I wanted to like Tunerfish.  It was a pretty innovative idea that was a combination of two of my favorite things, social media and television. The website has the glitz and glamour of a successful and fun social media website, but it is missing one very crucial aspect, the social part. Becoming a part of the established community has been difficult.

Other social networking communities I am currently a part of were almost effortlessly established. I haven't found that ease with Tunerfish. I do as I'm told and answer the simple "What are you watching?" question and it seems like I'm having a conversation with myself. I have yet to understand how becoming a part of the community on Tunerfish is possible.

Tunerfish attempts to establish a sense of community by recommending people to for their users to follow. It is my understanding that the follower recommendations are based off users with similar watching habits. If I commonly post that I am watching, Modern Family, The Office, and 30Rock, then Tunerfish will suggest users who watch the same shows. While it is neat to see what you have in common with people, it is a useless feature because there is very little user-to-user interaction on the site.

When I was first exploring the site I thought Tunerfish would catch on because it would be a new and interesting way to learn about new television. I thought I would gain insight on emerging shows. However, if the only people I am following like all the same shows as me, then what do I learn? The answer is nothing. Tunerfish so badly needs to improve interaction among users on the site. It has so much potential to be a television-swapping site, but doesn’t even attempt to do that.

I also do not understand the awards feature of Tunerfish. I currently have a Guppy Award and an Oscar Award. The Guppy award was completely a pity, thanks-for-signing-up, type of deal. The Oscar award I'm pretty sure is just a result of posting that I was indeed watching the Oscars. Apparently there are 121 possible awards to win. But what do they even mean? If I have more awards will I connect with more users? What will earn me awards? None of this is clear. The awards component of this site seems useless and just clutters the site.

One part of this project was to explore emerging social networking sites and follow them as they gain momentum from unheard of to viral. As I learn more about Tunerfish it seems that their online presences is, if anything at a stand still. Unlike Quora or Hunch, Tunerfish does not even have a Wikipedia page. As a hopeful social media site, creating a Wikipedia page should have been an initial priority. The same viral energy that surrounds both Quora and Hunch is not present with Tunerfish.

While I think overall the Tunerfish website is precious, I just don't see much of a future for a site like this. Once you post what you are watching, then what? There really isn't much offered on the site to keep you their longer than the 2 seconds it takes to post about what you are watching. It doesn't have that addictive pull that Twitter or Quora have.

Maybe there are components I am missing out on that make Tunerfish a site worth noting. My logic tells me however, that if someone fairly savvy in the social media department fails to understand all aspects of a site after 2 months of playing with it, then your site isn't as user friendly as it needs to be. Maybe that's the issue.  Either way, at this point in my exploration, I don't see Tunerfish causing any sort of ruckus in the social media world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quora, Tunerfish, Hunch, and their obvious differences

As a part of my Personal Learning Project I investigated 3 newer social media websites. Each of these sites (Quora, Tunerfish, Hunch) were anticipated to be among the new trendy social media sites in 2011. After creating accounts on each site and monitoring conversations about each via Twitter I have noticed many strengths and weaknesses for each.

Without a doubt Quora has been the most useful of all three sites. It has the most active community, the most links on Twitter, and the most potential to do big things in the social media community. Quora is a question and answer websites, that unlike competitors, maintains a professional attitude. It was created by two former Facebook employees that are making major names for themselves in the social media community. Quora is also actively used by some other top names in social media such as Facebook's Dustin Moskovitz. It is very simple to get started in the Quora conversation by looking up what you are interested in. Because Quora is still building its community, some specific questions are not on the site. However, submitting your question is very simple. After submitting a question I received a response about a week later. The more users Quora attracts the shorter this turn around time will become.

One complaint I have about Quora is the feature that creates personal communication among users. It is simply unnecessary. I follow 14 people and 0 people follow me back. The people I follow do not contribute to my Quora experience, and my lack of followers do not hinder my Quora experience at all. From what I've gathered it doesn't seem to play a large roll in anyone's interaction with the site. For all intents and purposes, the ability to follow specific questions seems to suffice.

Tunerfish was my least favorite among these three sites. It is just useless. Like Twitter your home page is centered around a question that needs answering. In this case the question is "What are you watching?". After answering the question, then what? Depending on who you follow you might receive good recommendations of television shows. This is where I developed issues. I follow 13 people. When I began following certain people it was based on people with similar taste in television. These people were recommended to me via Tunerfish. The problem with this is, if I want to discover new television, how would I do that if the only people I interact with watch the same shows as me? Tunerfish would benefit by developing a suggestions aspect of the site, similarly to Netflix. Without that feature the site is pretty much useless. Once the initial question is answered, I have no reason to stay on the site longer than that. In my opinion, Tunerfish would be more successful as just an app and not a website attempting to do more than it actually does.

I love Hunch, the only problem is, I don't have time for it. Hunch is a brilliant website that recommends all sorts of things based on your responses to simple questions as well as your rankings of recommendations. The website gets to know you the more you use it and becomes more beneficial the longer you have your account. But unfortunately not a lot of us have time to just waste time on the internet. Hunch is the type of website you would play with on a lazy Sunday morning, or in between flights at an airport. You can so easily get lost clicking from recommendation to recommendation. Which means the website is fun and addicting, but few of us have time for another internet addiction. I could see Hunch being attractive to younger people, perhaps high school aged. These people have more time on their hands and could perhaps benefit from discovering new interests.

Since using Hunch the site has changed a bit. The most recent time I logged in, Hunch recommended that I begin following specific people with similar interests as me. Since doing so, my account has become more about giving other users suggestions, and less about receiving suggestions. I like this because I am still able to discover new products, while simultaneously becoming a more interactive user. I think this is a step in the right direction for the site.

Quora definitely came out on top among these sites. I firmly believe that we will be hearing a lot more about Quora in the near future. I can see it becoming comparable to major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Linkedin. As for the other two I do not see as bright of a future. Hunch, more so than Tunerfish, has an addicting and fun foundation, I'm just concerned about another hour-killing website out there to distract me. Tunerfish needs to add more useful features if they want to be recognized as a major social media site. As they are now, Tunerfish won't be around long enough to make a splash in this seemingly endless sea of social media.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

The significance of usernames

In chapter 12 of Brian Solis' book Engage he describes the importance of maintaining a professional online persona. A lot of what he is discussing places emphasis on the minor details of your online persona, such as the usernames we assign ourselves. While much of this chapter is aimed toward business-associated online profiles, this logic can also be compared to our personal online persona's.

While reading I couldn't help but apply my own usernames to what he was describing. I pretty much stick to the username "biancaatx" for most social networking sites that require usernames. "Biancaatx" isn't creative. It's simple and obviously combines my name and where I live. It doesn't necessarily harm or help my online persona.

This reminded me of some of the awful usernames I have used in the past. I remember my very first AOL username, GlitzieGirl101 from when I was 10 or 11. Just seeing that on-screen makes me cringe with embarrassment. I reminds me of a screen name Lizzie McGuire might have had. From then on the usernames didn't get much better, only more embarrassing in fact. I transitioned to lilprep628, then sassygrl912. As I got older and inevitably more angsty (as most over-dramatic teenagers do) my usernames followed suit with screennames like shutupXbianca. Then when I was determined to seem mature, way before maturity ever took place, I had an online journal where I took on the username _my_incentive.

In recalling all the usernames I have possessed in the last 10 years I find it interesting that my generation has something like usernames to use as a place marker for certain times in our life. We can look back at old usernames and recall the type of people we used to be.

This realization really corresponds with what Brian Solis was saying in chapter 12. Usernames say a lot about the people behind them. They create the initial reaction to our online personas so it is important to really be aware of how you portray yourself through social media.

Something to consider.

Social media IS popular culture

This weekend I read on that Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook's CEO) will grace the cover Mad Magazine next week.

The Mashable article discusses Mad Magazine's decision to feature Zuckerberg by highlighting his  growing popularity and listing off his most recent accomplishments:
  • His relationship with President Obama
  • His SNL cameo
  • His 60 minutes interview
  • Having an Oscar nominated movie created about hm
  • Comic books about him
  • His own action figures
  • Being ranked as the 52 among the wealthiest people in the world
Mark Zuckerberg is pop culture. He is a hot topic and a subject of interest for many people, and he's only 26.  He is the first social media creator that has become a household name. He's erasing the line that says smart nerds can't be cool. If cool means popular, intersting, and impressive, than Mark Zuckerberg is cool.

Mad Magazine claims their decision to put Zuckerberg on the cover comes from a business perspective. The infamous Winklevoss twins offered the magazine $2 million to "poke" Zuckerberg a new one. The Facebook tribute issue will highlight the 50 worst things about Facebook.

While the Facebook/Zuckerberg shout out might not be the most complimentary, it doesn't change the fact that people are still talking about Zuckerberg. The cover won't tarnish his reputation, it will just fuel the conversation more. It will be one more factor elevating Zuckerberg's popularity. It shoves more social media into popular culture.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tunerfish not catching on

I should begin by noting how badly I wanted to like Tunerfish.  It was an innovative (sort of) idea that was a combination of two of my favorite things, social media and television. The website has the glitz and glamour of a successful and fun social media website, but it is missing one very crucial aspect, the social part. Becoming a part of the established community has been difficult.

Other social networking communities I am currently a part of were almost effortlessly established. I haven't found that ease with Tunerfish. I do as I'm told and answer the simple "What are you watching?" question and it seems like I'm having a conversation with myself. I have yet to understand how community on Tunerfish is established.

I also do not understand the awards feature of Tunerfish. I currently have a Guppy Award and an Oscar Award. The Guppy award was completely a pity, thanks-for-signing-up, type of deal. The Oscar award I'm pretty sure is just a result of posting that I was indeed watching the Oscars. Apparently there 121 possible awards to win. But what do they even mean? If I have more awards will I connect with more users? What will earn me awards? None of this is clear. The awards component of this site seems useless and just clutters the site.

While I think overall the Tunerfish website is precious, I just don't see much of a future for a site like this. Once you post what you are watching, then what? There really isn't much offered on the site to keep you their longer than the 2 seconds it takes to post about what you are watching. It doesn't have that addictive pull that Twitter or Quora have.

Maybe there are components I am missing out on that make Tunerfish a site worth noting. My logic tells me however, that if someone fairly savvy in the social media department fails to understand all aspects of a site after 2 months of playing with it, then your site isn't as user friendly as it needs to be. Maybe that's the issue.  Either way, at this point in my exploration, I don't see Tunerfish causing any sort of ruckus in the social media world.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life Lessons on Quora

So far Quora has been an interesting resource. It is incredibly easy to get lost on for hours as you research about things you don't necessarily need to know. Many of the questions I follow are media or communication related (or about Justin Bieber...). While these questions and their responses are interesting, it's the less serious questions I find myself being more concerned with. One of these questions being "What would you advise your (hypothetical) 22-year old college-grad child to do with their life?". 

The responses to this question have provided me with so much incredible (and free) advice. The respondents really took the time to write out lengthy paragraphs generally describing things they wish they had known. Some of the advice is specific like "don't work for a big organization" while other bits of advice are more general like "don't take things too seriously". 

I appreciate the unbiased nature of these responses. Because the people responding aren't advising one person in particular there is a hint of genuineness that is unparalleled by parents and peers. 

I'm not sure if free personal advice was an initial goal of Quora, but it certainly is a unique feature that transforms Quora into something more. Something truly useful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TV still number one market for advertising

Someone on Twitter posted a link to an article on AdAge that revealed that television is still the number one market for advertising. I found this particularly interesting considering half of my blog posts are about how the internet is revolutionizing marketing and advertising.

According to this article, 39.1% of advertising dollars are spent on television, ranking it number one over the internet and print. This news comes as somewhat of a shock to those, like myself, who assumed that television advertising dollars would shift toward the internet with the always increasing amount of time people spend online.

The article continues with a quote from eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey which points out that new trendy social media, cell phone apps, and things of the like are having little to no effect on consumers television habits. eMarketer estimates that $64.5 billion will be spent on TV advertising next year, almost double the amount marketers will spend on the internet.

While I find this fact interesting considering how much credit people are giving social media because of a shift in societal norms, I also find it somewhat scary. Among statistics of television's durability, what I gathered from this article was that now more than ever, we can't escape media. Our attention isn't being shifted by social media, it is being joined alongside television, film, music, and literature. What defines a media overload?

Twitter vs. Facebook: Who got businesses to pay attention first?

"Twitter has not only led the way for the evolution of microconversations, it has single-handedly forced businesses to pay attention to online conversations on a mass, and growing scale."
 - Brian Solis , Engage

I would argue that the above quote is factual minus one keyword, "single-handedly".

It is no secret that Twitter has played a massive role in establishing an unbiased communication tool for consumers and producers. But I wouldn't say they worked alone. I don't know the numbers, but I would say that there is probably a somewhat equal number of business-associated presence on both Twitter and Facebook. Maybe Twitter was easier to get the dialog started, and a less complicated avenue for such dialog, but it is my opinion that businesses felt the need to break into social media because of the overwhelming popularity of Facebook, not Twitter.

Facebook led the social media revolution as we know it today. Sure, 7 years ago we all had Myspace's, but we weren't engulfed in it the way we are in Facebook. Myspace was a one dimensional option for shameless self-promotion. Facebook was a tool for connecting people and creating conversations. Twitter was essentially a less complicated combination of both, minus pretentious behavior.

By no means do I wish to discredit Twitter as an innovative outlet for increasing communication between consumers and producers, but I don't think they worked alone in emphasizing the need for businesses to pay attention to online conversations. I think it just provided the easiest way for them to do so.

Hunch Discusses Design Challenges and Opportunities with NYU ITP students

Chris Dixon, Hugo Liu, Christina Mercando speak to NYU ITP students about the development of Hunch.

If you have the time to watch this (it's almost an hour in length) it is a really interesting break down of how Hunch was developed, who's behind it, and basic design information for someone wanting to create a start up. Note their age, style, and intelligence it's fascinating to see people from your generation becoming leaders among technology.

Becoming Media: We are what we consume

In chapter four of Brian Solis' book Engage, he makes a subtle point that really caught my eye.

In his description of how the creation of media is shifting to become more controlled by its consumers, rather than producers, he says, "We have the power and capacity to reach people far beyond our local television and radio broadcasts and even beyond those of the most prestigious nation media empires. The difference is that this reach is not prescribed; it must be earned."

He goes on to describe how media has transformed into a two way street and because of this, we as consumers are able to have a choice about what media we chose to follow and even, to some degree, trust.

This idea got me thinking about the life span of media. When radio and television first came out consumers were given less than a handful of programming options. Our programming options increased fairly steadily in years following its creation, until recently.

It seems like over night we went from having a specific number of media outlet options to having an innumerable number of options. We have satellite radio, internet radio, and local broadcasts. We have basic cable, direct cable, dish networks, Hulu and Netflix. These examples just being the ones that came to my mind instantly. It would be impossible for me to truly calculate all of our media options on the internet.

This is all due in large part to consumers now play in their media. While some ethical issues surrounding the concept that anyone with a computer can be a "journalist" exist, it is somewhat refreshing to have so many options. Will this fact change the structure of major media conglomerates? How will major networks compete for audiences in the future?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MyLikes: Social media marketing on steriods

One of the many celebrities (and by celebrity I mean reality star, don't judge me) I follow on Twitter recently (7 minutes ago) tweeted about her adoration for a site called MyLikes. Out of curiosity (and absolute boredom) I clicked the attached to the tweet to find out more about MyLikes.

If you've never heard of MyLikes it is an absolutely crazy yet incredibly relevant new marketing and advertising concept that gives even more control to the consumers. On MyLikes you simply create an account that links to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site. Once an account is created you simply go to the website and start rating and commenting on random products and services. What separates this from everyday consumer promotion is that MyLikes will pay you for your opinion.

MyLikes describes themselves as a "word-of-mouth advertising platform that connects advertisers with influencers on the web. Influencers can spread the word and earn money."

Getting paid to click a "like" button? Am I alone in thinking this all sounds too good to be true? Is my pseudo-celebrity a reliable source? Someone make an account and let me know if how soon their paycheck arrives.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How the consumer-marketer relationship has shifted

As a communication major my fascination with trending social media grows with every class. I find it so incredibly interesting how viral social media is in itself. In such a short amount of time it has completely transformed the art of communication as a whole, whether it be personal communication or business communication. Social media has a hand in it all.

While this subject is compelling, I do find myself slightly scared about how prevalent social media has become, especially the fact that every article I read claims that this is just the beginning of social media. How much more encompassing can it get? As it is now it seems that social media has transformed marketing the most. Advertisers and marketers now have the ability to connect with consumers in almost all avenues of their life. To me that seems a tad invasive.

However the first chapter of Brian Solis's book "Engaged", he eases some of these fears. He says, "Social media is about speaking with, not "at" people. This means engaging in a way that works n a conversational medium, that is, serving the best interest of both parties, while not demeaning any actions or insulting the intelligence of anyone involved." It seems that social media is forcing marketers to stop acting above consumers instead leveling with them about what they really want or need. Social media has caused these agencies to rethink the way the treat their customers. We are no longer numbers or statistics, but people.That is a concept I can get behind.

I think it is about time the consumer-marketer relationship got a face lift. Marketers and advertisers need to realize that consumers respond better to peers than pop-up ads. I really enjoyed how Solis captured the idea of personable marketing when he stated, "While intent counts, value talks and BS walks".

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Going to Bonnaroo without leaving your house

Bonnaroo is well-known annual music festival that takes place in Tennessee. The three day festival showcases some of the best names in music today. It is a truly unique festival that thousands of people migrate to Tennessee for each summer. For some of us a $200+ ticket, plus airfare or the always increasing gas prices makes it very difficult to actually attend the festival. We are left to hear about the outrageous performances from our friends fortunate enough to go. However this year that won't be the case.

According to, Vevo announced today that they will be streaming live video feeds from the festival. These videos will include select performances as well as interviews with the most anticipated artists. These videos will be available to view of course on Vevo's website as well as Vevo mobile products for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android,  and on devices like Google TV and Boxee. Vevo partners AOL, BET and CBS Interactive Music Group will also feature coverage.

So now it doesn't matter where you are or how much money is in your bank account, you too can enjoy the incredible Bonnaroo lineup!

I wonder which large scale festivals will follow suit?

A bunch about Hunch

As alluded in earlier posts I have an always expanding curiosity about emerging social media/social networking websites. In my further exploration of these trending sites I came across Hunch. Wikipedia describes Hunch as a collective intelligence decision-making system that uses decision trees to make decisions based on users' interest. In less-confusing terms, Hunch is website that gets to know its users through random questioning so that it is able to recommend sites tailored specifically to your interests.

To ease registration, Hunch gives you the option to sign into the website using your Twitter or Facebook accounts. I suppose this function is partially for ease of use as well as automatic promotion when people sync either of these pages with their Hunch accounts. Once you sign in you are then asked a series of seemingly random questions. Anything from "When you get home, where does your coat usually go?" to "Do you consider Russia to be a part of Europe?" The question/answer portion of the website continues for as long as you want, but the more questions you answer the better the site gets to know you. Once you've answered some questions and completed your profile you are ready to get started.

Hunch produces a list of suggested topics for you. This is when I was truly amazed by this site. The top suggestions Hunch produced were scarily congruent with my interests. It suggested things such as "Places to move" a subject I've only been interested in as graduation date draws closer. Other suggestions included "Going out ideas", "Cocktails", "Coen Brothers moves", and "Dog Breeds". You would think Hunch was connected to my Google searches, but playing on Hunch on several computers disproves this theory. The site's decision trees are just THAT good.

To truly utilize the site and have it tailored even more specifically to your likes you simply click on a topic and rate the site's suggestions on a 5 star scale ranging from "I hate this" to "I love this". (Hunch already has starred the degree to which they think you will like a suggestion, and 9 times out of 10 they're right. Creepy, I know.)

Rating each suggestion will only allow Hunch to get to know you better. The real usefulness of the website comes from clicking on a suggestion. For example under the suggested topic "Places to move" Maui was listed as a 5 star recommendation for me. Once I click on the recommendation a user generated list of pros and cons about Maui appears, as well as a list of other users who like Maui. It also allows you to submit any personal pros and cons, as well as a list of similar locations Hunch thinks you might find useful.

Hunch's ability to get to know its users gives browsing this site a personal feel. It eliminates all the clutter of a standard search and personalizes the web just for you. It isn't trying to sell you anything or persuade ideas in any way. It is simply an unbiased tool for learning more about things you are already interested in. Again this is another website that will have you clicking for hours so consider yourself warned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The power of online ratings and reviews

Chapter seven of Groundswell explores how powerful product ratings and reviews are in terms of marketing and advertising. While this concept seems simple enough, I think we as consumers tend to overlook what this means for the company.

Initiating a very basic rating system on your product, assuming you are producing a well-made product, could create a new hands-off approach to advertising. Your customers could be the driving force behind an increase of sales, while you sit back and watch.

Product rating is the new word of mouth.

While reading this chapter I couldn't help but think that yes ratings and reviews are a good idea in theory, but what if it back fires and you receive more negative reviews than positive ones?

This reminded me of working in a restaurant in high school. Our managers would always emphasize the importance of quality service by reminding us that if a guest has an exceptional meal at a restaurant they might tell one or two people, but if they have a horrible experience at a restaurant they will tell everyone they see. When comparing this logic to online purchasing I assumed the same would be true. However I really like the way Groundswell explained the importance of negative reviews.

According to the chapter, 80% if reviews would be considered positive. This chapter also emphasizes that negative reviews are essential to the credibility of the site. This is a very true statement. If a website only displayed positive reviews then most consumers would assume the reviews were false testimonials created by the company. With the initial risk of online shopping, purchasing from a website with fake reviews would greatly reduce the trust you had in that company and the odds of you buying any of their products.

It will be interesting to see what role ratings and reviews will play in the future of advertising as they become more prevalent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Attention World: Meet Quora

A mere seven months ago the world was introduced to Quora and newest questions and answers website. Quora hosts an open questions and answers forum much like its main competitor Yahoo! Answers, but in a more professional way. Quora also gives users the ability to rank answers with an "upvote" or "downvote" option that organizes responses so that the most accurate, relevant and helpful responses appear on top of the less useful responses (think Digg). 

Quora was co-founded by Adam D'Angelo (a former Facebook employee) and Charlie Cheever. They decided to go forth with their creation of this website because they knew the potential of a question and answers site, but quickly realized that no one before them had done it quite right.

I learned about Quora when researching predicted social media trends for 2011. Nearly every online article I read mentioned Quora as the website to watch out for.

When I made my account and began playing with the website I was thoroughly impressed with the accuracy and seriousness of responses as well as the vast topics available for searching. On Quora you are able to submit questions and follow the responses, as well as just follow questions that interest you. Following questions means that Quora will notify you when a new answer to this question as been posted which allows you to continuously learn about a particular subject. I find this helpful because Quora allows you to gain many different perspectives on one particular issue.

As I mentioned before Quora's catalog of questions range from any array of questions you can come up with. I currently follow such diverse questions as "How much revenue does The Academy Awards generate?" as well as "Why is PBR considered a hipster beer?" While the answers to either of these questions won't change my life, they will provide me with interesting conversation starters and they will add to the seemingly endless amount of useless pop culture facts I have stored in my brain.

I've also noticed that Quora is a great outlet to discover new music. I follow the question "What are good songs to wake up to?" This question gets answered a lot and I've yet to dislike any song I've sampled from the list of responses.

Quora has a lot of promise in terms of a new highly addictive trending social media website. Much like Wikipedia I find myself beginning my search for a specific reason then, an hour later, after millions of clicks I am educating myself on a completely different topic.

I appreciate the community Quora creates as well as the level of professionalism it holds. Quora has very specific requirements for asking and answering questions and does a excellent job of making sure users are aware of their policies. This ensures that Quora remains tasteful and useful, unlike Yahoo! Answers.

Quora has an immense amount of potential and I am curious to watch to see if it can rise to level of other social media juggarnauts. 

@charliesheen #tigersblood #winning

As of 9:03AM on March 3, 2011, after creating a Twitter account one day ago, and after only 21 tweets, Charlie Sheen has 1,233,041 followers on Twitter. I'll go ahead and join the rest of the world with a resounding 'WTF?'.

When deciphering through the recent media storm that is Charlie Sheen I'm left bewildered by his massive following. His IMDB page doesn't help at all. While considerably lengthy, it really doesn't showcase many performances worth mentioning aside from "Wall Street", "Platoon", and "boy in police station" in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". All of which were made in the 80's.

I am aware of the success of "Two and a Half Men" although I'm not sure how that came to be. His comedy is not worth $ 1.25 million per episode. But aside from that dog and pony show, Charlie Sheen is still undeniably "#winning" right now for one reason and one reason only; he is certifiably crazy.

America loves a good train wreak. All the media attention Lindsey Lohan receives and the success of the "Real Housewives" series prove this point. So when Charlie Sheen said on nationally syndicated television that,  "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body" America was hooked.

Seeing Charlie Sheen rise to Twitter fame in a matter of hours makes me nostalgic for old Twitter. It makes me miss a time when Ashton Kutcher and CNN were battling head to head for days to see who would gain 1 million followers first. It seems that those days are long gone now and I'm left with tweets about "tiger's blood" hot dogs, and how Charlie Sheen is in fact a winner. Sorry America, you lose.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How social media effects the relationship between company and consumer

Chapter 6 of Groundswell, a book about how to cater social media to your specific needs, the author places an emphasis on how companies need to create a presence in social media in order to truly listen to the needs of their consumers.

The chapter highlights the recent shift in the relationship between companies and consumers because of the encompassing nature of social media. It has shifted any company's ability to gain access into the thoughts of their consumers.

Before consumers were actively voicing their opinions on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Yelp companies were relying on market research to gain consumer feedback. Market research however, while helpful, really only operated as a one way communication tool where consumers answered questions asked by the company. While this gave the company more control over conversation content it also limited the scope of the conversation. Consumers were only giving their opinion on what they were asked about, not necessarily what they really wanted to say. Companies were missing out on some of the most helpful information, the stuff they didn't know to even ask about.

Social media has completely transformed so many avenues of communication, including business. We are living in a rapidly changing society where the consumers have more control than the companies. The power is shifting and I predict it will only become more consumer driven in years to come. Social media's influence on society is only beginning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Putting "word of mouth" on the back burner

As a part of a semester long project exploring social media I decided to dabble in predicted social media trends for 2011. After doing a little bit of research on what other bloggers thought would become "mainstream" this year I noticed several mentions about entertainment check ins.

Popularized by Foursquare and Gowalla the idea of "checking in" really took off in 2010. Now that concept is predicted to transition from checking into locations, to checking into entertainment. Several new sites have emerged that allow you to share what you are doing, but not in 140 characters, by checking it.

This idea of of checking into entertainment allows you to share what movies, television shows, and on some sites even what celebrities you are talking about, book you are reading, video game you are playing, and even wine you are drinking. We no longer to need to share our opinions verbally, we simply check into them. From there if your Facebook or Twitter account is connected to the app then these sites will automatically share what you are checked into with your friends and followers.

Right now as I begin to play around with this concept I am experimenting with Tunerfish and GetGlue. Tunerfish an extremely simply to use website that operates much like Twitter. At the top you see an empty box that asks, "What are you watching?" you simply answer that question and see what others are watching right then and there too. You follow people with similar tastes to learn about other shows, movies, or viral videos you might enjoy. I enjoy the simplicity of Tunerfish, but it isn't as well-established as other entertainment websites.

GetGlue on the other hand is probably a leader among new entertainment check-in sites. GetGlue offers you to check into much more than Tunerfish. It is a more encompassing website in terms of the vast number of "entertainments" you can check into. The site has also been growing significantly since 2010. It is more popular than Tunerfish and has more of a chance of becoming one of the big names in social media then Tunerfish.

As I play with these new sites and others like them, I am curious but also cautious. While I find it interesting to share and learn about new entertainment on the web, I am careful to not discredit the old-fashioned way of spreading trends, word of mouth. Even though these new medias are fun and convenient and let's not forget the basics and lose ourselves on the web.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A fine line between public and personal tweets

If you follow the American Red Cross on Twitter you would have seen this HILARIOUS tweet Tuesday night. This gem was left up for an hour before someone working for the Red Cross received numerous phone calls about the tweet.

Gloria Huang, a Red Cross social media specialist is responsible for this tweet and claims it was the result of not being familiar with HootSuite, a brand management service that will assist you with social media.

While confusion could be to blame, it sounds more like to me that Gloria was just too excited to "#gettnslizzerd" after work to focus on which twitter account she was suppose to be updating.

Luckily for her the situation was not a Twitastrophe. Her excited tweet was joked about in later tweets and the whole thing blew over fairly quickly. But for at least one hour the whole world wanted to party with the Red Cross.

Influencing Influencers

In reading several articles and studies concerning the new phenomenon of consumers becoming primary market influencers it's amazing how this simple concept is and how few people realize it.

I consult the Internet every single day even when making simple decisions. Where to eat? Best happy hours? Almost immediately I scroll to where I can find how places were rated. Star systems or consumer comments are often the driving force behind many of my daily decisions, and I never thought twice about it until now.

According to Nielsen’s 2009 Global Online Consumer Survey,  results about the most influencing factors in online shopping yielded that 90% of consumers trusted recommendations from people they knew personally, 70% trusted opinions from other consumers posted online and
70% trusted brand websites.

These results suggest that obviously people are most likely to trust their friends over strangers and brands. But oddly, well known, trusted brands are not any more influential than total strangers who merely post a couple of sentences on a website.

What does this mean for the future of public relations, marketing, and advertising? How can they regain control? How can they influence the influencers?

As a communication student I fear for future employment opportunities. I fear for the fleeting importance of my degree. I wonder if years from now when I'm talking to my grandchildren I'll have to utter the words, "back in my day there were these things we called commercials..."

However as an average American consumer, I think maybe this will be a revolution in terms of the production of honest products. Maybe the fear of truly satisfying customers will result in better products. Maybe this is what we need as a driving force for manufactures to strive to create the best products possible and not crap glorified by advertisers and wrapped in the perfect P.R. package. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Read Write Web responds to the demise of

Last December Read Write Web wrote a response to Yahoo!'s decision to close the bookmarking tool Before reading the article I was not familiar with Del.icious at all. Their obvious opposition to the demise of this website made me wonder how I hadn't been utilizing this program before.

When learning more about the features of I realized that my favorite time-killing website, StumbleUpon operated a lot like, I just wasn't utilizing it properly. I actively browsed through the millions of websites tagged in Stumble without contributing my own. I didn't realize that StumbleUpon operates from user recommendations. Having realized this now I fully intend to become a more active stumbler.

Now that I realize the potential usefulness of StumbleUpon, I think of the dozens of times I could have utilized it more, especially academically. When I read RWW's description of it reminded me of a more organized version of StumbleUpon, and again I was reminded of the countless number of academic sources lost because of unorganized bookmarks. I was also reminded of the hours spent finding said sources, when I could have had sources find me via So much wasted time.

I was relieved when I noticed the RWW article had an update saying that Yahoo! would not be shutting down, simply selling it. It would have really been a shame if I hadn't gotten to utilize this tool.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Managing Tweets 2.0

I first got my twitter account in 2008. I quickly realized that unlike Facebook, Twitter was a less-personal form of social media. You didn't necessarily need to be friends with someone you were following. So when I began increasing my list of people to follow I learned how obnoxious and spam-like some people were, so without hesitation I "un-followed" them.

If following people was so impersonal, I assumed un-following them would be similar, and not as malicious as the dreaded "de-friending" on Facebook. However with today's introduction of My6sense for Twitter, I'm beginning to think otherwise.

My6sense is a feature of Google Chrome that will track your online reading behavior in order to gain an understanding of your online preferences (much like an RSS feed). Once it gathers this information it will bring stories it thinks you will prefer reading to the forefront of the stream and while burying stories you are likely to be uninterested in.

This week My6sense introduced a component for Twitter. It is used on Twitter in the same fashion as Google Chrome, however it buries tweets you are unlikely interested in.

When I first heard about this concept my initial thought was if you feel the need to "bury" uninteresting twitter accounts, why don't you just unfollow them and only follow people whose tweets you enjoy reading? Or has Twitter become so personal so that "unfollowing" is now considered unfriendly twitter etiquette?

Is Twitter the new Facebook?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Media: The New Driving Force Behind a Revolution

In the last couple days we have watched as a modern day revolution in Egypt unfolds. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have rallied together to express discontent with current Egyptian government policies. Yet more so then the political issues at hand, social media has been at the forefront of conversations pertaining to this revolution.

On January 28th, the Egyptian government, in attempt to prevent a massive number of protesters from gathering, shut off the country's internet and cellular networks.

It is monumental events like this that truly highlight the engulfing presence social media has on our modern day society. We are no longer participating in our father's revolution.

In his article featured in The New Yorker, Malcolm Galdwell compared civil rights protests to more recent protests such as the 2009 protest in Moldova, sometimes referred to as a the "Twitter Revolution". He provides an opinion that discredits social media's role in any revolution. He claims that word of mouth generated by the necessity of change has in the past and will remain in the future as the only necessary driving force behind a revolution.

This idea may exemplify the more genuine way to spark a revolution, but with tools, such as Twitter, we are now able to cause a global stir almost instantly. You are able to rally millions of people within hours, as oppose to months. It's truly phenomenal how fast social media works.

Social Media Changing Romance

Today I stumbled upon this little gem:

This video takes that old joke about men's blatant disregard for romance and gives it a 21st century make over. Social media legitimately makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for men to forget important dates any longer.

But let's not single out men. Has social media put an end to everyone's favorite excuse of simply forgetting? Between Facebook's birthday reminders and event calendars, and endless Twitter hashtags it seems as though that might very well be the case.