Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Web Secret #73: Social Media Is Not a Fad

I am always trying to succinctly explain to Baby Boomer non believers why social media is relevant to them.

And then I Stumbled Upon Erik Qualman's brilliantly executed video "Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think" which deftly answers the question "Is Social Media a Fad or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?" using statistics.

I have pared down Qualman's 37 stats to just 10 of the most compelling:

1. Years to Reach 50 millions Users:
  • Radio (38 Years)
  • TV (13 Years),
  • Internet (4 Years)
  • iPod (3 Years)
  • Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months
  • iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months
2. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia

3. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum

4. % of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees…80%

5. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
Boomers - are you listening?

6. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama

7. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé… In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
Pay attention - people born after 1985 do not read e-mail

8. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube

9. Facebook users translated the site from English to Spanish via a Wiki in less than 4 weeks at a cost to Facebook of $0

10. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.

Qualman's conclusion: social media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Web Secret #72: Backblaze

Anytime a website can simultaneously entertain me, provide a useful service, and save me money, I am compelled to pay attention.

Recently, I randomly landed on, one of dozens of sites that offers online data backup. When Backblaze opens, the first thing that happens is that you are treated to a lifelike 5 second video of a young woman dousing a laptop with gasoline and then setting fire to it.

That was so rewarding, I had to watch it a couple times before further exploring the site.

Essentially, Backblaze offers:

Online unlimited backup for only $5/month per computer for 50 years via a tiny application that installs in three clicks. They claim this online backup application automatically finds all your photos, music, documents, and other irreplaceable files and compresses and securely encrypts them. When you're not using your computer, it sends them over the Internet to the remote Backblaze datacenters.

SIMPLE. I like simple.

But it's not just about back up. What if you need to restore a file? Like all the other vendors out there, Backblaze allows you to restore from the web.

But what I really like is that you have the option to get your files on a DVD or USB drive sent via FedEx. Personally, I am keen on having the option of virtual backup AND something I can hold in my hand (or put in my safe for that matter.)

Try Backblaze for 15 days for FREE.

Then watch the girl flambé the laptop. AGAIN.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Web Secret #71: Online Snark Attacks

When I present on the use of social media for professional purposes, many participants seethe over the lack of accountability on the web. They ask:

"Where is the law?"
"Where are the guidelines?"
"Where are the codes of ethics?"

The quick answer is, (for the most part), nowhere - yet. Professional associations are in the beginning stages of crafting codes of ethics and practice guidelines that cover social media. MANY corporations don't even have a social media policy for their employees. And the law...well that's lagging about a decade (in my estimation) behind practice. The analogy would be that social media is moving at warp speed, and regulation of any kind - that's following in a Model T Ford.

So if we are in the wild west stage of our online history, how do you protect yourself, your brand, or your organization from online snark attacks?

I use StepRep to keep track of my online reputation. My HootSuite account also lets me monitor anytime my Twitter account is mentioned. You should too. It's your first line of defense.

HootSuite and StepRep help you find out when after you:
  • uploaded a blog post
  • tweeted
  • wrote on your wall in Facebook,
  • or performed some other online publication function
someone responded:
  • With a critical comment
  • A scathing tweet
  • A nasty message.
That's because on the Internet, a small, but vocal minority get a kick out of pinpointing flaws in your thinking, sometimes in the meanest, mean girls in the middle school fashion possible. And it's online for everyone to see.

Now what do you do?

You may be able to delete the offensive remark - and if you can - that's usually your second line of defense.

Otherwise, you need to think long and hard about responding. Defending yourself — even correcting a factual error — can prolong or aggravate your turn under the collective Internet microscope.

Opinions diverge. Speak up or shut up when you, your idea, or your product get a bad rap online? Be forwarned: anger, defensiveness and denial will almost certainly set off a feeding frenzy. Some experts favor correcting factual errors and countering negative opinions — but only to a point. No more than a short, simple clarification.

Some, including many corporations, forbid response of ANY kind except in extreme cases.

What's an extreme case? Two Domino’s Pizza employees were fired after they posted a video on YouTube showing one of them sticking pizza ingredients up his nose and sneezing on food. Even after the two were fired, the CEO of Domino's felt the need to post his own video reassuring the public that none of the food pictured in the original video was served to customers. (Duh.) Of course the CEO's statement was reported in the news causing tens of thousands of additional people to view the prank video.

My position is that unless something is egregiously incorrect, it’s almost better to let it die, because if you comment on it, it takes on a life of its own. If you react, the thread will move up to the top of the list again, and the more you respond, the more other people are going to respond.

Further thoughts.
What happens online usually stays online — forever — but the influence on viewers and readers is unclear. Some critical comments may be valid and you may want to heed them.

Or maybe not.

Final thought.
As a last resort, you can hire an online professional reputation cleaner like Reputation Management Consultants. Among other techniques, they will post until the negative comment falls off of page 1.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Web Secret #70 - Tiny Flash Drives

Recently my friend Alex, the software genius, came over to dinner (and to fix one of our 8 computers - thank you Alex), took out his wallet, and slid out...

What the heck is that?!

It was the size and color of two pieces of grape chiclets (only MUCH thinner). In fact it was a brand new, penny thin, one inch long Verbatim TUFF 'N' TINY 8 GB USB Drive.

Fellow gadget freaks, this thing is absolutely amazing. The TINY is one of the most compact, durable USB flash drives available. It is resistant to dust, water and static discharges, and compatible with all USB ports. The TINY comes with a key ring lanyard to attach to mobile phones or key rings. Alex keeps it in one of the credit card slots in his wallet - it takes up virtually no space. Get it in 2GB (orange), 4GB (green) and 8GB (purple) sizes. The 8GB costs about $25.

Question: "What's a little wider than a quarter, a hair thicker, fits in your wallet and holds a boatload of crap?"

Answer: A TUFF 'N' TINY USB Drive.

I want it, NOW.