I am an Angry Bird Read Why. . .

On the topic of Social Capial from your personal networks (the value we earn from trust and reciprocity), would you be ok with your “friend” giving out your phone number, religious and political beliefs to a stranger without asking you?  I wouldn’t consider that a good friend.

Today we heard from guest speaker Chris Parsons (@cparsons) .  It was both interesting and enlightening.  He specializes in privacy issues and surveillance, he talked about how these concepts are being impacted by changes in our culture.   The rules appear to be much more lax for application developers and web 2.0 companies than they are for old school direct marketers.   For example, iPhone owners who download the Angry Bird app from Apple and access it once give the developer access to their entire address book!   He followed the lecture with this tweet reinforcing his point.

So having done a bit of searching tonight I read that Facebook, after coming under fire in 2009 on such issues from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, now support that apps must ask people’s permission to access their Facebook data.  But how often do you immediately hit the “accept” button on these screens?  Humans tend to be impatient and ignore warnings and permissions screens – it’s our nature.   So, Facebook did agree to make some changes such as adding more disclosure but didn’t agree to seek permission from your “friends” when their data was disclosed to an app.  The Privacy Commissioner – Ms. Denham, relented based on Facebooks argument that apps are designed to be social and interactive.  You might want to share this with your friends.

Random Social Capital example: 

I am a sucker for purchasing the boxes of chocolate almonds or frozen cookie dough that makes its way around the office occasionally in support of a colleague’s kid and their sports team.   I will support the raffle tickets or anybody I know personally who is raising money through athletic pursuit for charity.  I do so for a couple of reasons (1) because I have been that kid selling those chocolates, (2) I’ve also been the mom of the kid selling the chocolates (3) I believe in the cause.  I would also like to think you will do the same for me.  This concept is reciprocity and demonstrates the social capital concept that Kadushin talks about in Chapter 10. 

Thanks Google Images for the pix.

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#Marketing FAIL and #What Were They Thinking?

Face #2 could be my daughter.  When I read Girls Around Me, I reacted as any mother of a 20 year old single daughter who lives in Toronto and enjoys the life style that goes with their age — with my maternal instincts!! Shock and desire to protect the naive and vulnerable.    I am relieved and not surprised that the app was pulled.  That said, there is no question that it is a service that offered great value for it’s users.  But it is disturbing that in today’s day and age Apple, Facebook and 4 Square would endorse a product that could expose people in this manner without a clear disclosure strategy.  I don’t know what the answer to this is but I think that negative optioning is NOT the answer.  It should not be the consumer who has to take the initiative to turn off GPS and privacy profiles.  It’s like a warning on a cigarette package – at least make the warning – fully identify the implications.

I am also disturbed by the brand and positioning strategy for the app.  Shame on Apple.  I might expect it from Facebook and 4-Square – but Apple?!    This whole thing might have flown under the radar had the service name been better considered.   I’m glad it didn’t.  For-profit organizations are looking for revenue streams.  Remember in 2007 when TELUS launched downloadable porn on their cell network?  They sadly misjudged the power of negative vocal opinion leaders, women’s groups  and the religious lobby.   But, it’s just a question as to when it’s back.  Maybe we will see Girls Around Me be repackaged, repositioned and offered up again when the dust clears.   Ethical and legal issues abound.

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How many iPods do we need? Just the newest one.

That new iPod comes out and you want it – seriously – how many of us have 4 or 5 of these in various vintages kicking around the house?  Thankfully we can spend even more on an iPhone now!  Those upgrades are a bit more dear – but we just have to have that latest functionality!   You may be able to relate to this spoof on the Feist Apple 123 ad  (click on the dance scene)

Marketers regularly use the Diffusion of Innovation theory in their target marketing process.  What Marketers might call the “fast followers” is the same target Kadushin is calling those post “early adopters” when he discusses “Opinion Leadership”.

Who is a credible source for you?  When Marketers want to influence target audience opinions this will be a question they focus on.  You value what your trusted friends are saying about a new restaurant experience or a new product.  If they are a credible source – it’s much more powerful than traditional paid advertising.    Those traditional ad budgets are shrinking – and being redeployed in non-paid PR tactics and efforts to create some buzz and word-of-mouth (wom).  I might even hire a company like matchstick

They will hire “brand seeders” on a freelance basis.  These “seeders” are close in age or lifestyle to their clients target consumer.   They are paid to identify potential influencers – this is done through research – the brand seeders are then provided samples to give to the influencers (opinion leaders).  They are encouraged and NOT paid to share their honest opinions AND disclose their relationship with matchstick (full transparency).  The hope is genuine WOM positive comments about the brand.    Seems a tad insidious?  With new tools big corporations will adapt their strategies and continue to try to persuade you.  Don’t get me started on Big Tobacco and their loophole marketing strategies!

There is a lot of power in this word of mouth advertising – so much so it has its own Marketing Association Womma.

*Thanks Google Images

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Collective action to save lives

I have various “social circles”  that I attach to the various hats I wear in life – mother, instructor, MACT student, triathlete, TELUS alum etc … Another one of these social circles has become more important of late – my next door neighbours.  When winter is safely over in Edmonton, we all start to slowly creep out of our homes again.   We begin to tidy up our lawns, wave hi to each other and reconnect. Truthfully, I consider all my proximate neighbours to be weak ties.  Regardless that we have each other’s keys or lend out the missing ingredient, help start a lawn mower or shovel a walkway.  But recently we have come together – united under a common injustice – ready to engage in our civic duty!  We have a collective problem and the City, despite our complaints has not responded.  It’s called life threatening pot holes.  If you drive down my local street you will feel that you have been transplanted to a bombing zone in Beirut.  Seriously.  My neighbourhood is central west Edmonton, a beautiful neighbourhood bordering the river valley, but the infrastructure – our sidewalks and roads — are vintage 1959.    My neighbours and I have all individually called the “pot hole” reporting line and we have also registered our potholes and their addresses online.  No progress so far.  So, our next step is to take some advice from Clay Shirkey’s Collective Action Chapter 6.  You see my 17 year old is a freestyle skier who has a nifty camera called a Go-Cam.  He attaches it to his helmet and films himself (and friends) doing tricks which are then shared electronically and uploaded to various sites for sharing.  Why is this relevant? My partner is an avid cyclist.  He is going to attach my son’s way-cool Go-Cam to his helmet and ride his mountain bike down my road.  He will hit every pothole in his path and the Go-Cam will register the depth and visual effects of the shock – seriously about 20 on my block alone.  We will then upload that to YouTube and let the network  diffusion and bridging properties take effect.   The first person I send it to will be @MayorMandell 

Social media is winning!

A common thread in our readings this week in Benkler’s Wealth of Networks, Chapter 3 and Kadushin’s, Understanding Social Networks, Chapter 7, is a concept that Clay Shirkey also refers to in Here Comes Everybody.    The idea of “costs” as a barrier to group action appears to be a central theme in the social networking literature.  The transaction costs view of markets and firms is at the core of Clay Skirkey’s “institutional dilemma” (p.19) where he uses the Coase theory (Ron Coase) to reinforce that organizations live in a contradiction – it takes advantage of its employees group effort, but some of its resources are drained away by managing that effort.   Firms want to lower “transaction costs”.  For anyone who has worked for a large organization – you may have experienced frustrations of time delays in decisions, or too many unproductive meetings or dated processes – these are inefficiencies – transaction costs.  For example, consider the idea of putting a diverse, international work team together.  This would require recruiting, coordinating and sustaining the effort — considerable costs that might have prevented the idea from proceeding a few years ago.  New technologies and networks are enabling what once wasn’t logical.  The old structures and costs associated with traditional bricks and mortar businesses are being rewritten.  Benkler brings out the examples including Wikipedia and Open Source software like the GNU/Linux operating system and the NASA Clickworkers Case study – all fine examples to reinforce Benkler’s/Shirkey’s  “proof “ that new social media tools are successfully  breaking all the old rules by rallying unpaid volunteers to produce an excellent product, with a mass following of customers while functioning  without a profit motive. Winning!

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Don’t mess with strong ties


The Sopranos as a model for Kadushan Chapter 6 concepts.  “Motivations for safety, effectance and status are critical in establishing rankings within small groups” (p. 88)  The inner core of the system “The clique of insiders” are connected by strong ties and they are “Surrounded by hangers-on who are linked by weak ties.

This “small group” — The Sopranos — is a New Jersey based crime family and part of a larger network of crime with connections to the mafia and other similar crime families who co-exist within their larger “industry” network.  There are informal connections across the families – the “chimney’s” described by Kadushan enable communication across hierarchical systems without having to go to the top of the chain of command.   For example Paulie talks to his counterpart  Johnny Sack from the Lupertazzi crime family.

Tony Soprano has more of what is valued by the system and he directs interaction towards others of less rank – he has the power – he leads.   The “family” becomes segmented by structural similarity – layers are formed in terms of relationship similarity.

The family is motivated by safety and the desire to affirm their worth which leads to the desire to control or make a difference in one’s interaction environment and a need for rank directs the interaction.  “Social climbing” or rank within the group is clear in the family.

*Soprano image courtesy of Google

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Pay it Forward

In Comm506 class yesterday we had the pleasure of a Skype guest lecture from Dr. Raul Pacheco of the University of British Columbia.  After his lecture I checked out his blog and twitter account.   He is definitely what author Kadushan would call a “power node”.  My net impression from the lecture and online footprint  – he’s a bit of a new age renaissance man.

It was interesting to hear some of his tips on building his online brand with social media.  He talked to us about his digital footprint and the strategies he uses to manage his multiple online tools which he indicated reflect his brand both personally and professionally.  He reinforced that they aren’t mutually exclusive and are more effective as a result.   As a marketer I know great brands are built over time and by staying relevant and connected to the people who support you.   It doesn’t matter if you are a NAIT college grad or Proctor & Gamble.   I found his lecture relevant as I have a presence on several  social media tools across professional and personal audiences.  I am fascinated thinking about our individual brand voice and whether it is consciously or unconsciously different across the platforms.  If there had been more time I would have liked to pick his brain on that topic.  That would be a killer research topic.

So top tips and take aways for me:

Be generous.  Share the content of others with your networks.  Practice reciprocity and add value to others.

I would call this a  “pay it forward” strategy — a very nice philosophy and outlook on life.   So, thanks @raulpacheco

Who is the fairest of them all?

On reading the first few chapters of the Social Networking text my colleague Judith commented that some of the social networking concepts  were reminiscent of  going back to high school.  What a fun anology!  But yes, basic network concepts recognize within many of our life networks some members are clearly more powerful, “popular” or better connected than others.   This chapter had me reflecting on the multitude of networks that I have based on the different roles or hats that I wear in my life; mother, instructor, colleague, friend, master’s student, triathlete etc…  It was interesting to consider the overlaps within my networks, in terms of considering the concept of “multiplexity” and “homophily” – how birds of a feather really do flock together.  I was also reminded of the “six degrees of separation” concept.   A fun way to approach this concept is through http://oracleofbacon.org/help.php

This game is based on the “Small World” concept and the idea that actors within the Hollywood movie industry can be linked to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps (well this varies actually).   The connection between Bacon and another actor is expressed as the “Bacon Number”.  This is a silly but fun way to demonstrate how the two factors of homophily and weak ties (friends of friends) work together to shorten the connections among a large group of nodes in a network.  The most connected actor is apparently Sean Connery with a bacon number of 2.8 and the average is 2.9.  So in this case, he is the fairest of them all!  This site is based on the Erdos number concept as applied to the movie industry.

Welcome to Teresa’s blog!

Yes my inaugural blog!  This is a creation for my Communications 506 Course as part of my Masters in Communications and Technology.   The last time I attempted anything remotely similar to this was a personal diary from my tween years.  I think that lasted a couple of weeks before the thrill wore off.    Up until today I have to admit I have been a read only “lurker” on the blog circuit.  But now, please bear with me as I foray into the blogger world.   Hopefully  I will go from a crawl to at least a comfortable jog in short order.  I plan to share insights from the course readings or my reflections on social media in general on a daily basis.