This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published January 28, 2011)

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, January 28, 2011
Metro section

Moncton company featured on Mashable.com

Getting your company profiled in a positive light on Mashable.com is like winning an Academy Award. If businesses could win Oscars, getting a good story about you written on Mashable would be the trophy.

I’m sure the good folks over at Lymbix, based here in Moncton, were thrilled to see coverage of their company posted on Jan. 20 in an article entitled “How a Sentiment Analysis Startup Profits by Checking Emotion in E-mail.” Lymbix has developed a system that checks the tone of corporate e-mails – kind of like spellcheck, but related to tone instead of spelling. After all, choosing the wrong words could turn off your customers… or for politicians, your voters!

To read the article online, go to www.mashable.com and enter “Lymbix” in the search box. I was also pleased to see the company responding quickly to critical comments rather than just leaving them unanswered. It proves someone is actually doing their job at keeping track of what is being said about Lymbix online!

Latest Facebook scam feeds on users’ egos

The latest Facebook scam that has taken hold is spreading like wildfire. I’d say that a good 25 per cent of my Facebook friends have been taken in by the application that purports to tell you how many profile views you’ve had. These numbers are not accurate. Many people report getting the exact same numbers as their friends.

Why? Because the applications are only fronts to get your personal information! When you sign up for the application, you must agree to share all the personal information you have on Facebook. Facebook, meanwhile, is urging users not to be taken in by these applications.

And another Facebook scam

Facebook users will have surely seen the application that supposedly goes back and searches for your first status update, adding an update to your page something like, “My First Status Update Was: Helllooooo…” or something similar. Again, stay away from these things.

Twitter fading?

According to a Jan. 25 item written by Douglas A. MacIntyre posted to 24/7 Wall St. (www.247wallst.com), there are some potentially worrisome numbers for Twitter.

In November 2010, the number of adult visitors to Twitter was down 14 per cent from November 2009. While the number of subscribers continues to grow, the fact that less people are visiting the website to actually use the service can only be causing a few people to start shaking in their boots. Here’s an excerpt:

“The average total amount of time people spent on Twitter rose to 2 hours and 12 minutes in November 2010 from 1 hour and 51 minutes in the same month last year.

“The most important statistic among these is that fewer people visit Twitter now than they did a year ago. The fact that those who do visit do so more often may be useful to advertisers who want repeat exposure. But, the draw of Twitter to any marketer is that its overall growth is fantastic the way that it is for Facebook or Groupon. Twitter has started to move rapidly in the wrong direction if monthly visits and visit duration are down.

“The data shows that Twitter may well be no more than a fad. Its ‘subscriber’ count may continue to rise, but that is not terribly important when the subscribers don’t use the service.”

I’m not so sure that Twitter will fade into the sunset. It’s become an excellent way to get quick updates and market links and information to targeted groups of people. I think many Facebook users, for example, may have signed up for Twitter accounts to try it out but eventually decided it’s just not for them. Many of the current accounts may be dead accounts, but I think the core group of users is strong, proven by the longer amount of time users spend on Twitter when they sign in. I think it’s just a consolidation of users.

Twitter isn’t Facebook. A lot of people window shopped and may have decided it’s not their cup of tea, but the immediacy of Twitter’s data, the vast amount of information that can be gathered just by watching trending topics, and the speed and simplicity of the service should keep it on solid ground. While visits may be down, those who are showing up on a regular basis are increasing their use. This is certainly a silver lining in what some would consider to be bad news.

New York City hires digital director

In an effort to make its website more user-friendly and to capitalize on social media, New York City has hired Rachel Sterne as its first digital director. According to a Jan. 25 report posted to PCMag.com, Sterne will be paid $115,000 USD per year. Sterne could have a difficult time in the position. According to the article, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly stated that Facebook and Twitter are “wastes of time.”

Time will only tell whether New York City’s investment in social media will pay off. If it does, you can expect other municipalities to follow suit, especially the larger ones which compete with the Big Apple for conventions, major events and tourism.

Beware of anonymous Facebook profiles wanting to friend you

I noticed many Facebook friends accepting a friend request from “Armchair Politician” recently. Just be careful when friending anonymous users. Better to be safe than sorry.

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