Category Archives: Facebook

Why KONY 2012 Makes a Great Case Study

Imagine you watch a 30 minute video on YouTube and you suddenly become a social activist.

Well, you don’t have to imagine it. This is what happened to millions of people across the globe in less than two weeks.

With one simple click of the mouse, users were introduced and became aware of a story occurring somewhere far off in Africa, about a war lord turning thousands of children into military zombies.

Here’s why this campaign makes for an interesting case study.

A few days after I shared the Invisible Children‘s KONY 2012 video on Facebook and tweeted the news on Twitter, I received an e-mail from Amnesty International (who I subscribed to). The e-mail started off telling me about how although this is the first time the world has heard about Joseph Kony, Amnesty has known about him for years – they just did not have the tools or know-how on how to execute the celebrity attention is he receiving now.

The KONY 2012 video that went viral reached over 80 million hits on YouTube in two weeks time. The utilization of celebrity appeal, charity, a 30-minute film and the power of social media have transformed online engagement to political activism (see below).

How the hell did this happen?!

For one, it’s a great conversation starter; the sheer curiosity factor fuelled massive discussion (we’re talking global here). Some 30-minute video was circling the web about a war lord in Africa and it was a big deal. People would ask, “But who is this guy?” and “Have you seen this?” and share videos with their friends.

This simple curiosity turned into a willingness to not just educate, but investigate what was happening. Who is Joseph Kony? What is he doing and where is he? Why are people talking about him? What is Invisible Children? How are people talking about Kony and the cause? Who is he effecting? When do we act? Can we act? Is he relevant to me, and now? (Covered the five Ws? Check).

And it sure as hell helped to get celebrities involved in the social media realm, tweeting and re-tweeting their concerns and support over the KONY 2012 video. Oh, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are supporting the Invisible Children cause? This is even more share-worthy.

Moreover, The Uganda Speaks campaign first tweeted by Al Jazeera English last Tuesday,is asking people in Uganda to tweet their opinions about Kony 2012. One interesting respondent tweeted, “There is a total disconnect between the invisible children and the community they claim to serve. Why make Kony famous? You cannot make a wrong person famous. Stop Kony, then what?” Exactly. Then what?

If the goal of Invisible Children was to raise awareness about the issue, then the campaign was a success. Not only did they receive positive feedback and support from millions, the charity also received backlash about having ulterior motives and unfair fiscal distribution. But as my graduate professor once said, “As long as they’re talking about you, you’ve got a fighting chance.”

However, if the goal is to arrest KONY by converting a quarter of the globe into Invisible Children’s own army-to-the-rescue and overthrow the political system, then they’ve got a lot of work to do. As Malcolm Gladwell argues, “Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”

From the launch of the video on March 5th, forward to almost a month later, over 100 million people have now seen the short film. Awareness about Kony and the LRA has increased tenfold and people have shared their thoughts and opinions about it.

All that is left now, is action. It’s great to have an idea, but it doesn’t mean much if there are no plans to execute. As  Madeline Bernstein of Technorati writes, “Knowing is better than not knowing, but clicking is not action.”

And in case you either haven’t seen the video through some social network or haven’t heard people talking about, first I’d like to know where on Earth are you. I’m kidding. But seriously.

Secondly, if you’re interested in watching the 30 minute long video, you can watch it below:

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Social Media Saviours

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Facebook Canada on Branding

Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada, joined AdWeek’s opening lunch session and presented the company’s findings on the rise and popularity of the social networking site.

Banks attributes part of Facebook’s success to the idea of discovery through word-of-mouth; users spend 8 hours per month on the site (YouTube users, in comparison, spend 5 hrs per month). On top of that, a staggering 800 million people are accessing Facebook every month. YEAH.

On average, Facebook users in the U.S. have 130 friends, whereas in Canada the average number of friends is 225. Although this number may seem small to other users who have over 1,000, the recommendation (and tagging) culture that has evolved from word-of-mouth have fuelled not only Facebook’s popularity, but the ‘likability’ of brands, products and services on the social network.

Additionally, Banks notes that brands play a huge role here and understands that Facebook, essentially, is social by design where people are at the core. He argues that advertisers must “fish where the fish are” in the social graph and become leaders to these large social groupings (similar to Godin’s idea of “tribes”).

According to Banks, building a brand on Facebook requires:

1. Connection: users must be able to connect though posts, videos, comments, likes and becoming fans of brand pages.

2. Engagement: advertisers/marketers must feed Facebook users with relevant information. This is often done with targeted ads.

3. Inspiration: loyal customers can transform into brand evangelists simple through platform integrations and sponsored stories.

From a recent Nielson study, 68% of Facebook users are more likely to remember something within a social context. Such users claim that they are not just recipients of a brand, but feel a part of a brand’s story (hence why event marketing is such a successful endeavour).

The importance of building a brand online is taking advantage of the media landscape and providing tools to the audience that they already know how to use. Humans need to feel that they have agency with media, thus marketers need to teach them how to understand it and motivate them to to use it.

Banks finishes with four takeaways of the future of social advertising:

1. There has been a shift from the information web to the social web.

2. Innovation has been immensely impacted by the social graph.

3. The social web has change and influenced the way people have relationships.

4. There is no better time than the present to capitalize on this social movement.

So what are you waiting for?

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Facebook Timeline Ads Show Their Take on Drug-Addiction

Don’t do drugs kids – Facebook will show you where the grass is greener.

McCann Digital Israel, part of the media agency McCann Erickson Worldgroup, has launched a creative social media campaign using Facebook’s timeline for the Israel Anti-Drug Authority.

McCann Israel uses Facebook’s split-screen timeline layout to create a profile for Adam Barak, a fictional character used to demonstrate his life in a year dealing with drug-addiction and a year without.

The campaign utilizes Facebook’s timeline by juxtaposing pictures from a year of life with drugs – including a swollen, sleep-deprived and depressed individual in a toxic relationship and living on the streets – to a year living clean – appearing fresh-faced and happy and enjoying a healthy relationship with his girlfriend.

I think McCann Israel was smart about tapping into an almost superfluous social network and where literally hundreds of millions of users are signing into everyday, although there is the possibility that this campaign could simply get lost in all the information clutter. There is also the possibility that people will simply ‘like’ the campaign, play around with it a little and forget it is there the day after (as is the fate of so many Facebook campaigns).

However, with the ability to “connect” with a fictional character, Adam Barak, and understand his story through drug-addiction and one without, the campaign has the potential of offering individuals a perhaps closer look into both a destructive and successful life. Of course, having a Facebook campaign allows for more interactivity and real-time engagement, thus not only increasing awareness about drug-addiction, but better recall about the topic.

And plus, the ad looks cool.

What do you think of McCann Digital Israel’s Facebook social media campaign on drug-addiction? Is it effective?

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Is Zuckerberg a Homewrecker?

Maybe Mark isn’t, but Facebook seems to be.

According to a 2010 study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, four out of five lawyers reported a rise in divorce rates in the past five years, with causes referencing social networking sites. And here’s the not-so-surprising news: Facebook was the market leader.

Two-thirds of the lawyers in the study attributed Facebook evidence as the “primary source” in divorce proceedings; MySpace came in second with 15% and Twitter lagged behind with 5%.

Because Facebook is attributed to the leading cause of divorces in the U.S., lawyers are now asking for their clients’ Facebook pages as a preliminary practice before proceeding with a case. This includes the detrimental (i.e. drunken) yet oh-so-common pictures posted online, which accounts for 76% of photos in the U.K.

The Divorce-Online study revealed one-third of divorce petitions reference Facebook. These Facebook users (i.e. separated spouses) are citing inappropriate messages, including nasty comments about each other and friends reporting bad behaviour of the conflicting spouses.

With the rate at which Facebook users are venting their grievances towards one another, the social network may consider updating their status to include “Divorced.”

I think we all should learn a lesson or two here about online etiquette… or perhaps just plain, old etiquette no matter what online/offline community you belong to. Or perhaps we can remember the simple way of dealing with conflicts, the more personal, one-on-one, nobody-else’s-business, “old-fashioned” way: “You wanna take this outside?” Sure, let’s.

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Social Whores vs. Social Bores

Having too many friends on Facebook means one thing; having too little means another.

Is it fair to say that the more Facebook friends you have, the more popular you are and the more likely you rule the social realm (online and offline)?

Or, is it valid to say that the less amount of friends you have, the less socially capable you are and thus not as popular as Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell?

Elizabeth Donovan, author of Friend Me: Surviving Popularity in the Age of Facebook at Psychology Today, looks at the social systems of youth and argues, “For many teens Facebook’s friend list has become the golden opportunity to achieve acceptability from their peers.”

One student, who created a Facebook page of his own, claimed that popularity rules the schools and titled his fan page as Popularity in my school is determined by the amount of Facebook friends. Facebook users are even adding acquaintances and strangers as “friends,” who are more likely looked at as a number than a human being – and all for the sake of being labeled as the popular kid in school.

Popularity among teens is no longer an abstract rumor, it’s a social fact. – Elizabeth Donovan

According to a recent study including 176 Facebook participants, performed by Dr Daniel DeNeui, the more Facebook friends you have, the more popular you are and the less likely you are to be considered a loner by your peers.

DeNeui also found that although the average user have 120 Facebook friends, popularity peaks at 302 friends. Anything more or less than that throws you into the category of the socially superior vs. the socially inept.

But isn’t all this brouhaha about popularity somewhat fake? If strangers are befriending others just to add to their social count (Twitter is another enabler of social promiscuity), it seems to me that users are masking the truth (about themselves and what/who they represent) in the age old conflict of appearance vs. reality (Shakespeare anyone?).

Thus, is there any value (for marketers) in the socially capable vs. the socially isolated? Perhaps the more important question to ponder is does our online social status, in any way, affect our status offline?

What do you think?

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Social Media Saviors

Amit Gupta, a tech entrepreneur recently diagnosed with an acute form of leukaemia, is reaching out to family, friends and strangers to find an appropriate bone marrow donor to help save his life. But he isn’t using the traditional route to search for a request.

Gupta found a way to test the strength, social responsibility and the altruistic character of the online community by asking social network users to contribute to his life-saving cause.

As an Indian-American, Gupta’s chances of finding a donor are 1 in 20,000, due to the under presentation of South Asians in the US donor registry. Thus reaching out to anyone willing to help across as many social media platforms as possible would hopefully increase his chances of finding a donor.

So far, Gupta has reached an impressive 17,700 on Twitter, 13,000 supporters on Facebook (with 422 subscribers), and a plethora of group support systems on Flickr, Tumblr and several other social media platforms.

With his followers, Gupta began organizing “swab parties,” where people responding to Tweets, Facebook messages and the like met in physical tech centres, including Google and Facebook. At these gatherings, prospective donors swab the inside of their mouths to collect their DNA and the information is sent to a testing lab to be registered in the national bone marrow registry, where they can be called upon at any time a match is found.

But relying on others, particularly strangers, has it’s downfalls. Calling on an  anonymous donor who showed up to your swab party a month earlier may have decided not to donate after all, since there is no personal connection for him/her to you and your situation. While some are more altruistic than others and donate for the sake of a good cause, others may not feel as comfortable with the idea of donating to complete strangers.

On the positive side, the ability for online social activity transcending into the physical realm has proved to be an enabler for turning people’s remote dreams into actual realities. Society has reached a point where we can call on strangers from a distance, even with a sense of urgency. In many ways, we are putting a lot of trust in our community and relying on its ability to lend a helping hand – whether it is to ask your fans to ‘like’ something or to ask your fans to help save your life.

David Hunt, chief medical officer of the national co-ordinator for health technology in the US Department of Health and Human Services, offers perhaps one of the more significant features of social networking:

The wonderful thing about social networking is it can create that sense of trust between elements of communities that have traditionally been relatively marginalised.

The diversity of respondents and the ability to congregate them under one roof (both friends and strangers of different nationalist) – and the speed in which we can do so – is quite remarkable. Before, this might not have even been thought of, and the time to complete such a feat would take a lot longer. But thanks to social media for being, well, social, people of various ages, races and connections all over the world will be asking others to help save their lives, one tweet at a time.

Based on Kate Dailey’s and Matt Danzicoh’s Amit Gupta and the Social Media Search for a Cure.

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The [Network] is the Message

I like to think I’m pretty prevalent in the social realm. I’m not talking about Internet stardom (although that would be pretty cool). I mean, I’m very much involved in social networks, including YouTube, BloggerGoogle +Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, this blog, and the list goes on. So I think I can safely say that I have some idea about what goes on between Tweets and “Likes” (right?).

Based on my own observations with Facebook in particular, the posts that get the most reactions are the ones that tug on your heart strings and create a real, human connection. If your content is emotional, has some sort of personal relevance and tells a story at the same time, you’ve got yourself a winner!

This judgment is based on the amount of comments and “Likes” given to a video, article, song, etc., on a person’s or brand’s Facebook wall. Content that gets the least amount of recognition through these means are often those that are impersonal or too corporate for the likes of the people.

Here’s a quick example. I recently stumbled upon (oh! I have an account there too!) two comic images that I thought were hilarious and most likely would gage a reaction out of my friends. I posted the following images on Facebook:

The first image received nine “Likes” and two comments, while the second image received nine “Likes” and 30 comments. In fact, the second image encouraged my friends to create a story line for the characters in the photo and others had a debate over the truth to this scene. There is a sense of a shared consciousness that keeps us (somewhat) grounded in the reality that we live in.

On the contrary, when I post articles that I find are noteworthy (mostly about technology and gadgets, advertising, social media, etc.), I am lucky to get even one “Like.” Most of the time, there is no reaction to what I am posting when content relates to those topics. Facebook is more of a “place” where people rekindle existing relationships, start new ones (or end ones), not so much for discussing business tactics.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, then how come articles about business and more impersonal content are posted to LinkedIn and receive more attention than an emotionally-grabbing video?” If you’ve asked this question (which I have), it most likely has to do something with what communications theorist Marshall McLuhan once said: “The Medium is the Message” (Yay! Go undergrad!). LinkedIn is a network built for people to connect with employers, students, companies, etc., in relation to learn about other corporations, potential careers and/or business opportunities.

Perhaps in comparison to Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook has already established a thriving network based on personal connection with people we know. With Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and Blogger, you can befriend or follow random strangers. On LinkedIn, well, sometimes we just want to connect with people for the sake of having an important contact to suck up to for that job position you really want (…).

But like Facebook, and perhaps YouTube, which thrives on visual content (and engages the more emotional side of us all), have a nostalgic element to them. People want to laugh at that hilarious joke that your buddy posted on your wall, or cry a little after seeing an emotional video about a deaf person hearing their voice for the first time (and this one got 6,672,092 hits!).

Or maybe there’s something else to it. Maybe these social networks make it easier for us to know that we are not alone, that we are all connected in this thing called life together… whatever network we’re signing on to. Whatever the reason, the network is still the message, and whatever content we throw out there, it’s up to the people to decide where it belongs.

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Facebook Uses Friends as Brand Power

Who are you most likely to listen to? A stranger throwing an ad in your face or your best friend? Well, according to Nielson Research, 90% of people trust their peers‘ recommendations over an advertisement. As a result, talking to your friends about how much they liked that new Gaterade flavour made it more convincing for you to try it than an online ad did (which is only trusted 24% of the time) – no offence to advertisers.

Because word of mouth is so powerful, it exposes brands to friends or, friends of friends, in a seemingly natural way (and maybe even at a faster rate). It helps to not only introduce brands to people who have never seen or experienced them before, but it also may even show the brand in a new light. Peer power can reach new waves of people by means that advertising may not even be looking for in their target audience, which could eventually enhance viral distribution.

And for this reason, Facebook is yet again helping users reach new levels of power. The new advertising strategy Facebook is implementing forces brands to create better content pages in their ads so they can increase their chances of attracting more fans through viral campaigns. Brands will no longer be viewed as spam but, essentially, as a friend.

And so, you might be thinking that Facebook already has brand metrics to measure popularity of pages, brands, links and the like (and also “Likes”… no pun intended). But the ever-changing functionality of Facebook is inventing new means to enhance the network, including their new addition called “People Talking About.” This functions allows user activity is measured on Pages of brands and media sites, including posting your activity to a wall, commenting, asking or answering questions, “liking,” and sharing content.

The idea behind this new function is measuring how much more effective friend recommendations will be as opposed to online ads to magnifying a brand’s reach. Users will be able to locate high volume traffic and pinpoint what content is most talked about. Brand and media pages can now calculate the number of friends you have, the total reach people have linked to or posted something about your Facebook page each week, the number of news organizations referencing you and how much online distribution your Page receives.

So, what does this mean for advertisers and content creators? For one, more creative and relevant write-ups will be in higher demand (and this is not just a lesson for Facebook marketers). For the most part, social media and SEO has been about content, with many marketers going the lengths of writing repetitive content (and some downright gibberish), just to attract numbers (also known as people) to their site. Now, people are demanding a more personally relevant (and human… not robotic) approach to be heard. Branding is not about guessing what the people want; it’s about listening, connecting and cultivating what people are saying and delivering them answers to their questions, wants and needs. More power to the people, right?

Based on ‘s article Facebook’s New Advertising strategy is Brilliant and Unexpected and Facebook Launches New Metric: People Talking About.

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Facebook Users – Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self

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Facebook Users: Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self

Facebook has been getting a lot of flack this year and for valid reason. Privacy has become an increasingly important issue with this popular social network, an issue that has received much backlash from its users.

With the recent reveal of F8, Facebook introduced an app called Timeline, where information about you is streamed from the day you were born. And we’re not just talking about the details of what you ate for breakfast today; we’re talking about what you ate today and what you ate for breakfast when you were five years old that one morning right before hockey practice.

Every move you make online will be automatically shared under Facebook’s new app called “Gestures,” where users no longer have to “Like” something for it to show up on their profile. Instead, users can click the  “Add to Timeline” button on any website or app to add YouTube videos they’re watching, music they’re listening to, articles their reading, and anything else they are doing on the Internet.

Up until now people had a decent grasp on regulating their image on Facebook, but now there’s a catch. If you aren’t too careful about regulating your privacy online, it could cost you your reputation – depending on whether you are Monica Lewinski or the Pope.

Although this application makes functionality on Facebook a lot easier than it already was (and, well, the Internet now too), being unaware or forgetting about this application can backfire. What if you had a crush on Joey from Full House (say what?) and stared endlessly at Google images of him and you were too embarrassed to let anyone know? Or even worse – you accidentally reveal that you watch every single episode of Jersey Shore and couldn’t wait to see Sammi and Ronny continue their drama?


Ahem. OK OK – we all have our guilty pleasures, so make no room for judgment here. Just be careful out there with what you share, because it’s going to be with everyone you’re connected to. I’m sensing that there is going to be a lot of PR involved here…

Based on Pete Cashmore‘s article on Mashable. Read it here.

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