Time suckers…yes they are…the Facebook addiction! We are trapped!

It was just this past week while I was working with a group of physicians, one pediatrician asked me why they should care about Facebook. I answered to this 25 year veteran of children’s medicine…look at the numbers. The gate keeper to medical decisions in families are women from the ages of 25-44 and these women are the main audiences on Facebook. The pediatrician looked at me and he understood…but I could tell something was bothering him. It is the same thing that is bothering me…time management. How do we squeeze this into their ever busy lives.

Nielsen released social networking stats showing that women from the ages of 18-34 are the most active on social networks. 53.5% of all U.S. social network users spend the most time on Facebook. Last week, Facebook shared that 500 Million people have been on Facebook on any given day. According to Facebook, the new profile will be your story, revealing your life in one single page. That is scary when you think about it…our life charted out in one single page. Are we addicted? You would think that the top addictions in the US might be smoking and gambling, nope. Here is a list of America’s Top 5 Addictions according to best selling author of Addict Nation, Jane Velez-Mitchell:

1. Prescription Pill Addiction
2. Food Addiction
3. Addiction to Crime and Punishment
4. Addiction to Shopping
5. Addiction to Technology
Jane Velez-Mitchell’s book Addict Nation suggests “Cyber addiction is perhaps the most complex societal contagion America is facing today because the nature of the Internet is all encompassing. There is email, texting, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Skype, Google, Yahoo, iTunes, and innumerable chat rooms. The Internet also acts as a porthole for other addictions like online gambling and porn, making it easy to score with a simple ‘click.'”

There is even a new disorder call the Facebook Addiction Disorder or FAD. Yes, I kid you not! FAD, or Facebook Addiction Disorder, is “a condition that is defined by hours spent on Facebook, so much time in fact that the healthy balance of the individual’s life is affected. It has been said that approximately 350 million people are suffering from the disorder that is detected through a simple set of six-criteria. People who are victims of the condition must have at least 2-3 of the following criteria during a 6-8 month time period.” Click here to read more about Facebook Addiction Disorder and The 6 Symptoms of FAD.

It is no surprise that social media outlets are time suckers. More and more organizations are questioning whether they should let employees interact on social networks while in the workplace. But here is a new part of that equation. The more time we spend, the larger the network grows…but the new variable are the changes made to outlets like Facebook. The more changes made, the more time we spend trying to figure out the changes, the more the community grows, the more we are not willing to vacate our investment.

Yes…Facebook has been making changes and as the largest social network, community members find it hard to vacate the experience. So many pictures are uploaded, so many friends online, so much time we engage and share our precious information.

I have to admit, I logged on this afternoon and I felt a bit overwhelmed. I sat an wondered, how much of my information is private? How much time is it going to take to figure out the changes? How much more am I going to have to worry about who sees what, what is shared, and what is shared with who. With the increasing amount of privacy settings (offered by Facebook including the ability to segment our updates via lists, public statuses, and now the subscribe option), these options continue to create so many segmented channels, we are having to increasingly spend more time thinking who we are sharing “what” information.

These options, yes all these new privacy options we highly requested as community members. As we received more and more friend invitations, we were noticing that more and more people were creeping into our lives. We began accepting invitations from people we might have met once, yet felt obliged to accept. Admit it…so many times you selected accept because you knew they knew someone you see daily or they sit in the cubicle next to you. This obligation has been causing the amount of people we are friends with in Facebook to increase to a point where it is just getting out of control. This increase caused our concerns of privacy which led to mass audiences requesting more options to segment information…and here we stand. Trying to figure out how to manage all these options…we are trapped.

We are now trapped in a predicament whether to thin out our friends on Facebook or submit to the multitude of options when it comes to how we share, let’s say, the pictures of children. Yes…we uploaded that new picture and for a brief second…we wondered, who needs to see this and how will I manage who tags the picture and which list it should be posted. Yes…these options have created a decision pattern that is beginning to detract from the main reason we joined Facebook…to share.

This culture of choosing is trickling down into our daily lives, this idea of who is a part of of our Facebook friends list is dictating who we are taking to during lunch or our business relationships. I have heard more and more conversations in businesses describing or sharing a story as they are wondering why they were de-friended or even blocked. This offline exchange is creating the barometer for which we are choosing our in-person relationships.

Family relationships are learning their status in the family when they notice a brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or even maternal relationships change online. The family dinners are surrounded by the uncomfortable lack of conversation as each person wonders why they are no longer receiving status updates from the loved one sitting beside them.  This Facebook culture is beginning to shape our in-person lives, creating larger divisions just because we tagged someone in a picture they did not feel they looked their best. Admit it…you have been mad at mom or dad when they captured a picture of you not looking your best, then uploaded to Facebook, tagged your name, which put’s that no so good image out there for your circle of online friends to see. Better shave everyday.

We created these options…we wanted the ability to only share a picture, a status update, a piece of life-like information only with certain people. These options we requested and now, we have bought into these options with same hard distinctions as the high school party invitations. This thing we call Facebook has now infiltrated our every move, with hours of investment that we have a hard time living without. We have so much time invested…stopping for a week is just like giving up cigarettes. This addiction is shaping our culture. It is a time sucker and we created this Facebook. They gave us what we wanted.

So…my thesis is ths: The more time we spend on Facebook, the larger the community grows, the more Facebook will continue to make changes!

*** Image credit http://mytechquest.com/facebook/22-cool-desktop-wallpapers-for-facebook-lovers/

I am rolling! The ironic public outcry about Facebook, using Facebook.

I think it is so freaking funny and flat out ironic the vast public out-cry surrounding the changes on Facebook today. Here I list the reasons…

1) Facebook is a free outlet that allows people to connect…AT NO COST! ***But this is not the reason for this post. We know it is free, so what.
2) This public outcry is happening on Facebook. Ok…think for a second. People are complaining about the changes made on the Facebook interface, using Facebook to publish their complaints, connect with others with similar feelings about how much they hate the changes on Facebook, connect with new people in comment areas making new friends where people are complaining about the changes in Facebook, creating a PR machine online so people can search how to deal with the changes on Facebook. This is so brilliant!

Ok…as of July 2011 Facebook is the number one visited web property internationally! Yes…check it out here:

So what has changed…well, let us look for a second. Not much…just more traffic and PR maybe?

Well, another brilliant PR effort for Facebook today. All it took is for Facebook to publish the changes last night, and in the last twenty-four hours more online news outlets have written about the changes including CNET, Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Mashable, even the Christian Science Monitor. Yes, just by making a few user-experience changes, a public outcry turned into a media circus providing tons of coverage about the complaints and how it really effects the end-user. All of the reactions, write-ups, and blog posts led to interpretations of how to deal with the changes.

What is so great about this…the absolute irony, so many business and individuals depend on Facebook for daily communication. Companies invest tons of money on their Facebook pages, consultants, campaigns, all to capitalize from the rich traffic and communities based in this online community portal. Since Facebook is so rich in human capital…average users which are Facebook’s human capital…any changes create the feedback loop for Facebook, communicating how the changes effect the user base. FREE RESEARCH!

So a few changes have yielded free PR, free research, and a massive uprising that is really a bunch of petty complaints because you can’t find someone’s pictures fast enough. And then you fuss about it on the mere social network that made you mad. This circle…this feedback loop is the mere reason why Facebook is the number one social network in 2011. If it really made you mad, and you really did not like the updates, and you really want to make a statement…then do what you did with MySpace – QUIT USING IT. Then Facebook will get the message. But, complaining about small changes socially on a social network only reinforces what they do so well…connect people with a common cause. It just so happened to be Facebook today.

***Image from SomeEcard.com

The Facebook Update…more changes

OK…there are bunches of changes! I am not going to type all of them out, because there are so many other smart people that have done this!

If you want to watch the above video in HD, here is the link:

Official Facebook Blog Post on the recent changes:

This is what is included as an explanation in this post:
1. News Feed: See What Matters at the Top
2. Ticker: Join Friends in Real-Time

Here is where to learn more about the subscribe button on Facebook’s Blog:

Here is where to learn more about Friend Lists:

Here is a great blog post called New Facebook: 6 Things you Need to Know:

Here is what is discussed in New Facebook: 6 Things you Need to Know:
1. Top Stories and Most Recent now in one News Feed
2. Ticker becomes official
3. The Subscribe Button
4. The New Friend Button with Smart Lists
5. “Profile” disappears
6. Last but not least…
– Business pages do not need 25 Likes for a custom URL.
– More emails from Facebook
– The “Translate” button
– Links to track the path of a shared post

Finally, here is a great video by Brad Panovich giving a hands on tour exactly how Facebook has changed!

Finally, a great post by Mashable.com that covers all the changes with images and explanations.

Interesting 3rd Quarter Stats from Neilsen – Why do we blog?

1. Australia – Among Neilsen’s 10 Internet-metered markets, Australia Interent users spend the most time visiting social networks and blogs, averaging 7 hours and 17 minutes per person.

2. Brazil – Orkut is the #1 social network and blog site in Brazil, visited by 30.3 million Brazilians in May 2011, 11 percent more visitors that #2 site Facebook.

3. France – Nearly a quarter of active French Internet users – 9.6 million – visited #2 social networking site Overblog.

4. Germany – German Interent users spend more time on social networks and blogs than they do any other online category of sites, a total of 12.7 billion minutes during May 2011.

5. Italy – Italian Internet users spend nearly one-third of their time online visiting social networks and blogs (31% of total Internet time).

6. Japan – FC2 Blog – the top social networking site in Japan during May 2011 – was visited by over half of active Japanese Internet users.

7. Spain – Although Spanish Internet users spend most total time on #1 site Facebook, they average the most time per person on #4 site Tuenti (4 hours 42 minutes per person).

8. Switzerland – Social networks and blogs reach 60 percent of active Internet users in Switzerland.

9. U.S. – Blogger is now the #2 social networking and blog sire in the US with 501 million unique visitors, up 17 percent from a year ago.

10. U.K. – Internet users in the U.K. view 229.6 million pages on Tumblr, the second most page views on any social network or blog in the country after Facebook (20.2 million page views).

These statistics are from the 2011 3rd Quarter Social Media Report by Neilsen. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/

So…what can we draw from these stats? Did you notice each geographic location noted blogs as a major connection or traffic arena. What does all this tell us?

Well…blogging is an international communication platform. Whether you are telling stories, sharing a recipe, sharing pictures from a trip, giving viewpoint about a press release, expressing a political view…blogs are our one single place to communicate in a way to crosses all geographic, ethnic, gender, and socio-economic borders. People are reading our thoughts.

Is the content of these blogs creating a mass homogeneous world of digital noise? More and more people are sharing and connecting by sharing their thoughts via blogs…but are we adding to the noise? If so, how can we create content that does not continue to add the mass hysteria but create a path for like minded individuals to freely connect.

Are we fueling Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all the other search engines highly charged financial model. The more content we give them to index, the more they rank content for social searchers (like ourselves) to find what we are looking for digitally.

Are we writing passionately or are we creating content just to say we wrote a post. Are we writing to build digital stamina, to flex digital muscles in the hopes someone thinks we are smart? Why do you write…to connect, to explore, or to self glorify our self-perpetuating egos. What is our mission when we write?

Is the story we are telling, the story we are writing significant enough to stand-out beyond the global, digital space? Can we say more with less and can we say it in a way that truly impacts our readers to take action…or are we just a bunch of marketers?

Why are we burying links to social outlets? Content is KING! Maybe?

One of the more interesting things that continually fascinates me…we are still burying social links. What do I mean, burying social links on websites, televisions ads, print ads, etc.

Websites: I see more and more links to organizations, brands, individuals’ social links at the bottom of a website…or even below the fold. I wonder if web designers and developers are engrained with working with template based methodology? Maybe we just do not know what to do with the links? If we are blogging and have great content…why are we making it so hard to find the blog? Oh, let’s put the link to the blog at the bottom of the homepage and bury the blog in the navigation.

Television Ads: It is easy to just add the social media outlet icons (Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) at the end of the spot. Watch some of the popular ads and you will see a glimpse of these icons in the last 3 seconds of the ads. Most of these outlets just put the icons without the link address to the social link. People need to see the exact URL and not just a Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube icon as an afterthought.

Print: Same as websites and television, these links and outlets are after thoughts. Social outlet icons or event links are buried at the bottom of a design or where we can squeeze them in somewhere. These icons are put there for “awareness” yet only bring awareness for the outlet as an organization, but give no URL to go find the links and engage.

This makes no sense to me?

It is my belief that a YouTube channel has the greatest reach than any other social outlet. Yes, it is a destination social outlet where Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are gateways to YouTube. So if Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are gateways to YouTube, why are we making it hard for individuals to find these social links?

Let’s look at YouTube…it has twice as potency as all the other social outlets. Links to YouTube videos last twice as long in the social space than links to any other content, basically has twice as long half-life as other social links. Here is the research from bit.ly on Mashable.com: http://mashable.com/2011/09/06/links-sharing-bitly/

Also…social media-related YouTube stats are just as impressive. YouTube says that on average there are more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link. Meanwhile, over on Facebook over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every single day. OK, with these stats…we should make it easier for our audiences to find our video content.

Let’s take a look at this YouTube video by Fancy Feast. It is one of their newest campaigns, encouraging you go find more of their YouTube links to watch the whole “engagement” story. But at the very end, they include a link to the channel, but is so small and short…you have to go to Google and search for it. Oh yes…that is what they want you to do…search for the content. We will get back to that in a second.

Reminder…Gthe point of this campaign is to get you to go watch the rest of the videos, to watch the whole story. The link is so small and so short when watching on television…I guess you have to use DVR to see it.

Organizations are lazy with their social links hoping that the user will use keyword searches to find content. Why are we making it so hard for our audiences to find our social outlets…we want them to engage in conversation? We want invest tons of money in these outlets, why the heck are we making it hard for our audiences to find them.

Let’s let look at some more stats:

“As of February 2011, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month. We spend around 2.9 billion hours on YouTube in a month — over 325,000 years. And those stats are just for the main YouTube website — they don’t incorporate embedded videos or video watched on mobile devices.” <– via Mashable.com.

Oh…btw, YouTube is the Number 2 visited website internationally…yes! Here is the list for 2011: http://www.google.com/adplanner/static/top1000/

So what do these stats tell us, we expect people to search for content. We do not do this intentionally, maybe the smart advertisers do, but most average organizations do not think about this. The social search of Google and Bing ranks content based on searches, creating millions of dollars of revenue from our inability to tell audiences the direct link to a social outlet or social piece of content. The more clicks to the content, the better the search is refined, the higher the rank of the content or social outlet.

Advertisers who are not generating income (direct or indirect links) should do a better job of giving audiences a direct URL or link to social outlets and social content. Why…we want audiences to find content as fast as possible, because CONTENT IS KING.

Oh…this whole argument is based on the premise that your social outlets have viable a community and wonderful content to engage. So if your Content Is Not King…then keep on burying those links.

Content is Passion. Content is SEO. Content is King

Content is Passion
Write passionately…I say. So many people have the hardest time writing inside a blog, especially in the very beginning…why? They are searching for their voice. A blog is created for some reason, it could be for business or even for a personal reasons…we write because we have something yearning inside to share. We share it on a public space because we want to connect. We could write in a private journal, but there is some reason we write publicly. We have a passion and it drives our fingers across the keyboard.

Connecting our passion with focused writing generates an audience that can connect, engage, and share. This focused writing channels the passion into key words that begin to index inside the search engines. This allows like minded individuals to find you (YES YOU) based on topics and keywords. The more we write from the heart, the more people can connect based on the social search algorithms that drive Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other outlets.

Content is SEO
Your blog is your mother ship. It is the hub for almost all your digital media properties…why? It is so dynamic and content rich, it provides a rich field of words that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines index daily. Your mother ship is the home base because we share what we passionately write in one single place…our blog. We share this blog via social outlets, distribution points like newsletters, word-of-mouth, and even email. We point people back to our blog because it is the home of our most creative, carefully craft thoughts.

We want people to read, so we will do just about anything to get them to read. Each time we share our content via distribution points, and direct them back to our blog…the search engines love us. The more we write, the more hits we get, the more we share, the more our confidence grows, the more we find our voice. The more we write…the more the search engines index our dynamic home base. SEO is driven by passionate writing!

Content is King
I hear more people say this is “bullshit”, specifically that content is king. I disagree…it is proven by the SEO and the community that finds you based on the passion you write. The more you write, the more you find your voice, the more you focus…the more you connect. As you focus your writing, you can use outlets like Wordle.net to create word clouds based on your writing.

Wordle.net will create this “cloud” providing indicators of the words most frequently used in your posts. This is an indicator of your passion, the passionate content that allows people searching the search engines to find you and connect. As you fine tune those key words, focus your passion…the better the content of your blog is shaped. Your voice matures and you begin not only writing for your audience…yet writing with your audience. Why…because your audience has found you, commented on your posts, and inspired you to write more. Content is KING.

Social Currency – The Work Life Shift

We are the new social currency…and it has to do with how we work. I have been reading through a presentation shared with me by Young Office called the New Blend by the Live-Work Foundational Research.

We have changed the ways we work and we are no longer a 9-5 generation. We are working longer hours, spreading the work throughout the day as we integrate “this” into our work/life model. We have shifted to a service-based economy, which can be attributed to many factors including the economy and evolution of family roles. With this shift, new technologies have provided the ability to fulfill this shift by working across different workplace cultures and even time-zones.

I was at a political gathering the other night, talking with a few attorneys pondering the technologies they are using to manage their client relationships. Specifically, how they now interface with their clients. The days of going to the office to put together a report are over, well for some of us. With technologies like DropBox, Basecamp, iPads, Android, and other tools/platforms…we can get an email at 2am, write a proposal, email it out using a template from DropBox, all from the comforts of our beds…in roughly 15 minutes. And then back to dream land.

We are also using social tools to connect. Not only with other people but with brands. With this shift in work environments, working from home has become a solution that dis-engages us from social interactions and brands. The idea of going to work has shifted how we consume knowledge, connect with people, and engage with brands. Working from home, a home office, or other out of the corporate office settings has created the desire to still connect. Technology has re-connected us to people and brands…and this social currency is a product of our working environments.

Young Office will be hosting a very cool event in October and one of the presentations is centered around exploring Generation Y. This is from Steelcase, one of Young Office’s manufacturing relationships:

“Generation Y will be the largest segment of the workforce in the future, yet attitudes and behaviors about work already are being adopted by older generations. This is changing how knowledge work gets done, and what’s necessary to create a high performance workplace.”

The social currency is evolving, especially with the ever changing work life demands and the technology that ties us together. This technology allows us to connect with each other, with brands, with our clients. We are “un/tethered” and we want to stay in the loop.

“We may be out of the office but we’re not out of touch. During many hours people spend at home, they connect to the connect to the outside world.” Emily Ulrich of Steelcase states, “Everyone brings their devices home…And everyone – clients and bosses especially – values responsiveness.”

I was speaking on a panel at Clemson’s Leadership Summit and was asked this question, “Do you think there is too much or too little focus on either Creativity or Passion in today’s work environment?” Here was my response…

It depends on where you “work”! Are you working a “job” or embracing your passion in your career? Do you look at your everyday work environment as a “job”. I remember seeing someone claiming to be an entrepreneur say they have the best “job” in America. Well…that person can keep his job. I do not want a “job”…I want to “work” where I can get up everyday and chase my passion.

Do you want a job or do you want to exercise your natural talents to create change, create innovation, inspire others to lead. I like to think of this as the legacy movement. What lasting legacy do you want to leave? When it is all said and done…how do you want your children and grandchildren to remember you? What mark do you want to leave on Greenville or your surrounding area? Does your “work” environment allow you to do this…or maybe we should stop looking at it as a job and work. Turn that job/work into your passion and create a legacy for tomorrow’s leaders.

We are chasing our passions. We have the skills, the technology, and tools to stay connected socially and professionally to execute any dream. This ability to perform these jobs, exercise our passion from any work environment, and connect using social tools has created a social currency surrounded by our work environments.

We are the new social currency…it allows us to chase our passions.

* Image credit: Steelcase