Tag Archives: social media

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:

Photo credit: http://www.theatlantic.com

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Where Did I Go?

Yes, it’s been a while since I last wrote a post – 11 days to be exact – and that, for me, is too long. I apologize if I have left you in the dark, but I promise the news is really exciting…

You are now looking at reading the material of the new Social Media Planning Intern at Leo Burnett! It was one (among many) of the nicest calls I received on my birthday and I started last week!

Although it’s only been precisely four days I’ve worked at Leo, I am really pumped to learn and contribute to one of the best (ok ok, the best, am I right?) advertising agencies in the world. Can you tell I’m beaming?

For this reason, I unfortunately will not be able to write as frequently as I was able to for the last four months. *Sigh*

BUT. I do hope to write once a week. And to clarify, all material expressed will continue to be of my own. HOLLA!

Photo credit: http://www.leoburnett.com.my

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Made for Social

What makes a campaign or an advertisement social? What is it about social that is so shareable?

These thought-provoking questions came up during a conversation I had with Proximity‘s Social Media Strategist, David Jones. He gave me a good idea to write a post on this subject, and so here I am, sitting in front of my computer screen and scratching my head. What makes things social and thus shareable?

So I drew out a mind map and came up with one of the many options of what social media is:

From looking at just this one mind map, a lot of factors play into making something social. One could suggest the following process (among others):

1. The content viewed, listened to or read moves people in an emotional way and makes it relevant, impressionable and creative to them.

2. One person feels the need to connect with others (who perhaps have similar tastes or are curious about their reactions) and thus shares with them or collaborates on user-generated content with others.

3. Content it distributed throughout the media landscape.

4. The content is eventually viewed by others and becomes, in some instances, an element of pop culture – so much so that it is enough to share with hundreds, thousands or millions more.

Let’s take a look at Volkswagen‘s “The Dog Strikes Back” commercial aired during the Superbowl, for example. You know, that beautiful dog that sees himself as overweight and subjects himself to an intense workout routine and diet to be able to run alongside the car?

This commercial has received 9,899,009 YouTube hits from that one link so far. One reason could be that we love the determination we see in the animal and connect some similarities to our own human behaviour (what science calls anthropomorphism).

But the more obvious reason is the ending, where Volkswagen takes us back to last year’s memories of the Darth Vader kid thinking he has superpowers.

The commercial makes a pun on what is essentially an inside-joke to those who saw the “prequel” – a conversation held between a few ‘people’ in a bar who argue that the dog is “funnier than the Darth Vader kid” (who later feels the wrath of Darth Vader for making that comment).

Not only was the original commercial a cute and memorable idea to connect the kid with the car, but the commercial became so lovable, so shareable, that YouTube hits have reached 50,836,938 to date. Even more, Volkswagen even created a teaser for the anticipation of the sequel release!

Volkswagen essentially made their way into pop culture through its viral-worthy content and treated their audience as movie-goers. Viewers enjoyed the content as perhaps humorous, cute, smart and real to some (as several parents may have connected on the same idea that their children pretend to have powers too… and sometimes let them think that they actually do).

Thus I think human connection, a real one, is at the root of what is social and what is shareable. Connection and the desire to seek out others who have similar tastes and needs (a term some sociologists would label as homophily) is one factors that drives virality.

As humans, we want to feel like we are in this – life – together, that we are not alone. This may even go back to centuries ago where we were bred to believe that this connection is the key to survival – it’s human nature!

But adding procreation into the mix may be stretching the idea a little too far (ya think?). Alongside human connection and emotion as part of what makes content social and shareable, I would even like to add the concept of participaction to the mix. People no longer want to just be a recipient of the brand, but they want to feel that they are actually a part of it.

The audience sees something they like and may decide to modify, add or delete aspects of a social concept to call it their own and share it with their friends (i.e. crowd-sourcing and mash-ups from user-generated content). They become the brand itself, or at least an extension of it.

Sometimes we want to be the first ones to say “I saw this first!” or “hey check out what I did to that viral hamster on a piano video!” Thus a sense of belonging and recognition builds makes its way into the picture.

There are several factors that play a part in making content sociable and shareble, including the ones just mentioned. Whether it’s something that tugs at our heart strings or want to simply belong to a project that is greater than ourselves, we want to be an active participant in creating that connection.

Whichever reason, just make sure not to mention that the dog being funnier than the Vader kid…

What do you think makes a campaign or ad social and shareable? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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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?

Photo credit: http://myportableworld.com

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AdWeek 2012: STAY TUNED

AdWeek 2012, Canada’s biggest industry gathering, will be hosted by the nation’s party city capital, Toronto (ok, maybe second to Montreal). Next week will follow event after event with presentations and speakers ranging from Facebook, AOL, Google, Yahoo! and more. Who’s excited? I am, obviously!

Here is my schedule of the events I will be attending and reporting on:


Facebook Opening Launch: Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada will be giving a keynote address.

“The Democratization of Influence: Today, the Web is built around people and in this socially driven and connected world, the democratization of influence means that friends influencing their friends is becoming the most valuable measure of a successful online presence.

Facebook fundamentally believes businesses are better off in an open and connected world that allows people to share the things they care about with their Social Graph. As consumer expectations continue to evolve to having what they want, where and when they want it, the only way to fully deliver on that expectation is through a smart and integrated digital strategy that puts people at the centre of everything that you do.

Jordan Banks will dig deep into how Brands can realize the power of the Social Web and inspire Canadians to influence their friends by connecting the +18 million Canadians to the brands and things they care about most.”


Ipsos Presentation: Influence Index presented by Steve Levy, President, IPSOS REID Marketing and Loyalty

Google, Apple, Tim Horton’s or Canadian Tire: What do you think is the most influential brand in Canada? We know!

Join this session where Ipsos Reid will share results from the first ever Canadian Brand influence Study. This session will unveil the most influential brands in Canada. What brand is on top? Who leads in the key business categories? More than this, we will share the “secret sauce” of brand influence. Why are some brands more influential than others?”


Google Speaker Series: I don’t have a description for this event yet, but you can only imagine what Google will bring to the table…

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26TH, 2:30pm-3:30pm

Extending Your Brand Message: “This not-to-be-missed panel will bring together industry leaders to debate the value of branded content and how brands can use it to extend their message.

As marketers strive to create campaigns that not only deliver their brand message but that suit the medium in which it is delivered (online, mobile, video, etc.), the need to extend rather than adapt campaigns becomes more real.”

Mitch Joel, Graham Moysey, Peter Vaz and others will discuss how brands can create credible content to support their campaign messages; how they can drive audiences to these branded content areas; and what role branded content plays in their overall marketing strategy


An Ad is Not Just an Ad: Sponsored by Yahoo!

“Ads are a key source for connecting consumers to new products and brands. However, not all ads are equal or have the same effectiveness. So how do you make sure yours is remembered and reaches its target?

Yahoo!’s Nick Drew and Tony Marlow along with Bryan Segal from Comscore, will discuss how choosing the right ad format and environment will have the highest impact on ad performance. Expect thought provoking ideas and insights on how to creatively convey your brand’s marketing messages to the right audience.”

Eek – I’m excited!

These are just some of the events that AdWeek 2012 in Toronto will be showcasing (heck, there’s even a Ad ball on Thursday night!). So if you’re interested in going to these events or are looking for another something else to attend, you can register at AdWeek.ca. And if you’re a student or a recent graduate, you get the bonus of a wonderful discount.

Hope you to see you there!

Photo credit: http://www.advertisingweek.ca

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How To Get Your Personal Brand On

That’s right. Today, it’s all about YOU. It’s about empowering yourself as a brand through social media. And hopefully by the time you read the last sentence of this post, you will feel empowered, throw your fist in the air and say, “Let’s get this party started!”

The importance of creating a personal brand helps people recognize who you are. Once you develop a strong online reputation and brand presence, you become the “go-to-guy/girl” in your field. People will start asking, “Have you heard of Lisa Byers?” And they will enthusiastically reply, “Heck yes!”

And so without further ado, I present to you the things I’ve learned about creating a personal brand:

Step #1: Establish Your Goals

This is the first and most important rule to nail down, because this is what provides guidance and what inevitably drives you to success. Having an objective is what gets this whole process started! Thus in creating your personal brand, some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

Who am I? What do I stand for? What are my strengths?  What do I love and enjoy doing? What motivates me? Why do I want to do this? How can I make a meaningful contribution? How and when do I achieve my objective? Where do I want to be a year from now? Who can I thank those who help me along the way?

All of these questions should provide proper direction into determining what you love to do and why. If you need a little bit more direction, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Napoleon Hill‘s “Think and Grow Rich” – a great life diary for anyone.

Step #2: Network

Getting your face out there and building connections and relationships with those in your field is crucial. Hill mentions the “Master Mind” in his book, where one borrows and uses the education, the experience, the influence and the knowledge of those you meet to carry out your plans.

Not only will you start to understand more about the business you are pursuing, but you will also be putting a face to your own name. Oh, and make sure to thank the people who help you along the way – who knows if you will be where you are right now without them.

Step #3: Create Quality Content

The best way of doing this is to start your own blog. When I was fresh off the graduate boat and started looking for jobs in September, I sat down with Karen Geier, the Director of Social Media at OgilvyOne Toronto (part of my Master Mind group, you see?). She advised that I start a blog and get to writing about my passion.

This has been of great advantage to me, since not only am I writing about the stuff I love, but it has sharpened my writing skills and knowledge, as well as made me more curious and inquisitive about the business.

The more you publicize your ideas, the better you can position yourself to capitalize on them. – Richard Branson

Creating quality content (i.e. content that is appropriate and personally relevant to myself and my audience), helps build a loyal fan base. And it sure is a lot easier creating quality content two or three times a week when you are passionate about something (see Step #1).

Writing for the sake of writing will get you nowhere. But writing – with your objective in mind – to illustrate to your readers that you want to share invaluable information with them and not just get eyeballs, will develop a more honest, dignified, fulfilling, trusting and lasting relationship (and one helluva reputation).

Side note: WordPress.com is a great place to start writing a blog. Later, if you wish to buy your own URL address, the account can be moved to a dot com address.

Step #4: Spread Your Personality

You should now be prepared to start spreading your web personalities across multiple social media platforms. This includes signing up for a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress.com, About.me and YouTube account, or any other tool you find is appropriate or relevant to what you wish to accomplish.

The best CEOs are able to leverage their personalities to increase awareness and draw attention to a company brand. – Dan Schawbel

For example, I have an account in all of those I just mentioned and try to use them on a regular basis. However, I do not have a Tumblr or Flickr account, as I do not see it pertaining to my objectives at the moment.

This last point is important in realizing that you should not just hop on the bandwagon and sign up for a bunch of different accounts that you will never use. Remember your objective and the tools you require to accomplish it. Otherwise, you have a crap load of social media bulk sitting in a virtual space – and for nothing.

Side note: Klout is a platform that measures online influence through social media networks you belong to, providing both a score and a label. However, it has been getting a lot of flack lately about inaccuracy claims. For example, I have a Klout score of 54 and am labeled a Specialist… who is influential about Advertising (which is legit), Travel (ok), and Kim Kardashian… wait what?

Step #5: Be Social

I’m surprised at how many people laugh at this and say “Well DUH Lisa, I’m all over the social web, of COURSE I talk to people.” EXACTLY. Key words here are “talk to” instead of listening and genuinely responding to.

Social media is called social for a reason. Make sure to follow back when people follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media platform you are on. Make sure you reply to followers with a genuine and personal response, not some robotic and fixed answer.

Side note: When dealing with Twitter, a good rule to live by is to follow select people you are interested in learning more about or helping. If those you have chosen to follow do not follow back within 48 hours, you can log into Twitter Karma and unfollow them.

Last piece of advice: This takes time! Although technology has socialized us into becoming instantly gratified beings, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Building an online presence and personal brand takes time and is something you are just going to have to be patient about.

Oh, and don’t forget to edit!

If you have any other suggestions as to how you can create a strong personal brand, I’d love to hear about it!

Photo credit: http://www.forbes.com

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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?

Photo credit: http://www.psfk.com

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Excuse Me While I Pin This

I introduce to you my new obsession, Pinterest: a social bookmarking site where users collect the things they love – including YouTube videos and images (whether they are pop culture’s rendition or your own) and share it with your pin followers on a virtual pinboard.

For example, on my virtual pinboard I have categories titled “Yes, I am a Bookworm” where I pin book I’ve read, “Drooling Yet?” for the foods I love and recipes to make, and “So You Think That’s Funny Eh…” where all things humour go (including crazy Canadianisms, SNL clips and Jenna Marbles videos).

All boards are placed on a pinboard for others followers (just like Twitter) to “like” or “repin” onto their own virtual pinboard, which can hold a good number of categories of interest. Users have the ability to follow a person’s entire pinboard or follow just one or two pinboards if your interests lie in only a few categories.

What I have noticed, however, is that the majority of Pinterest users are female, a similar observation made with Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly enough, most of these women are collecting wedding images, which could define the age group that is participating in this social hub – or where a woman’s head is at (certainly not mine!).

This is a prime example, however, of niche markets that utilize individual interests to drive traffic to their accounts. Weddings, among food recipes, women’s beauty topics and DIY crafts are of popular interest here, and people are more likely to click through to your site and get to know where your attractions lie (especially for all you visual learners out there – including me).

Moreover, Pinterest offers another opportunity for users to network and lay down a common ground in one big social sharing fest. Because Pinterest allows Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn users to link their Pinterest account and feed videos and images through these social media platforms, users can increase their brand visibility, one pin at a time.

So whether you’re into wedding dresses, gourmet meals or great exercise workouts, Pinterest has got you covered. Not only can you continue to build your online brand presence with a simple virtual pinboard, you may even learn and discover things from others you may not have otherwise thought. Three words: move over Facebook.

Happy pinning!

Photo credit: http://popgoesdad.wordpress.com

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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?

Photo credit: http://blogs.cornell.edu

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Social Media’s Effects on Network Structure

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, argues that the future for individuals lies in niche-markets, as communities are becoming more and more specialized.

With the ability to access the Internet any time, anywhere, most social conversations are occurring within core networks about specific topics of interest.

The most obvious examples are the people are seeking employment on LinkedIn, befriending friends of friends on Facebook, and following and being followed by strangers on Twitter, asking questions and getting favours (including asking for organ donations).

As the Internet connects and permits all types of people to engage within these specialized networks, network diversity is also increasing. Our networks are becoming increasingly expansive and at a faster rate than the traditional/physical meet-and-greet route, and people are reaching out across various platforms.

Network users are following friends, strangers and mixing in with different community forums. As a result, the mode of communication has changed the way we communicate across physical and online barriers.

With face-to-face communication, we encounter strangers and acquaintances everyday. But this physical encounter may require more time and energy. For example, there is more time taken in joining or leaving clubs due to the physical necessities to go see people and visit places. Our “real-life” structure is somewhat limited and less mobile.

With the Internet, however, we encounter strangers and acquaintances, but we have more freedom to “move.” Through blogging, instant messaging, skype and other means of communicating on the Internet, we can casually slip into a conversation with so much ease (even with the possibility of going unnoticed), providing a sense of limitlessness.

How we communicate today did not seem feasible yesterday: our online networks have a lot less limitations than our physical ones. But is our online social networks really limitless? What are your other thoughts or comments on how social media has affected our communication network structure?

Photo credit: http://hosting.ber-art.nl

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