Are social media outlets are loosing the “socialness”, somewhat?

Social media outlets of 2011 are just loosing the “socialness.” Twitter is turning into the AP Newswire for the consumer, Facebook is turning into free websites for businesses, and YouTube is turning into a barrage of content all competing for attention. Yes…48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.

Google+ gave everyone hope that this new social outlet would provide a closer-nit experience…with less amplification and more connection. But people forgot about Google+ as fast as we ran to jump on board.

The friends I used to connect with via Twitter now do not respond to @replies and emails…so sometimes we connect…maybe?

So here is what I think…the people that drove the Social Media Revolution got jobs. Yes…those people that advocated this social space over two years ago were the same people looking for work and business opportunities. They now have a routine and it is not about connecting online.

More and more people are just broadcasting. Just pushing brand information through their personal social channels. Now we have individual faces that represent brands without the individual conversation the brand is hoping to utilize. Influencers…what is that in the social space. Maybe those who have large numbers of followers are not really influencing the right audiences online…just influencing people that really have no influence at all.

Just chalk much of this social experience to the infiltration of the marketing minds spamming consumers with too much information. For heavens sakes…we are having to re-think how we connect with our families online. Each time we log on to another outlet, we are tracked and recorded as marketing numbers…providing rich information about our purchasing practices. The digital divide is slowly “filling in” with those individuals marginalized based on access to technology now have access with faster connections over the telecom networks.

We are striving to find closed spaces that we can connect with friends, yet not share who/how/when we are connecting and building relationships.

The one thing that gives me hope is the world of blogging. It is still a place to share our thoughts and minds in a potentially low profile situation..even though it is a public space. It is a lot easier to manage an anonymous blog than an anonymous Facebook or Twitter account.

Another place that gives me hope are practices and communities created through hashtags on Twitter. This allows individuals to join a conversation surrounding a simple word/phrase instead of having to follow a particular brand or person. There is still levels of influence built into digital conversations similar to those using hashtag communities, but this movement is still growing.

Word of mouth is still king in the world of marketing and the world of print is starting to find value again. Maybe we will see a swing…not sure. Well, privacy settings are supporting these offline movements like traditional outlets and word-of-mouth. The leaders in the industry like Facebook are creating more and more privacy settings. What does that mean…people are demanding to be more and more private. The larger the audience…the more people can see your socialness…the more people want to protect their information.

We marketers are taking the social out of the media…and making it just another measurable outlet.

Facebook once again influenced, privacy changes via Google+?

Yep….once again Facebook is leveraging other social networks knowledge and incorporating into their own space. Facebook has introduced a new privacy setting to allow you to select who can see a status update.

This is a radical shift in the way they allow users to present information. Before, you had to navigate to a group, page, meeting, or another space to communicate to a specific group. Now, this can be done via the status bar, allowing you to select who will see your status update.

Hmm…this seems very similar to Google+, the way you can make an update and select which Circle will see the update.

Here are the items/updates Facebook has made to adjust privacy settings:

  1. Privacy Controls: Profile Editing
  2. Tag Approvals
  3. Photo Tag Approvals
  4. View Profile As
  5. Great Control of Status Updates
  6. Adding Locations to Status Updates
  7. More Control Over Photo Privacy

Privacy Controls: Profile EditingTag ApprovalsPhoto Tag ApprovalsView Profile AsGreat Control of Status UpdatesAdding Locations to Status UpdatesMore Control Over Photo Privacy

Mashable does a great job laying out all the details of the above changes. Here is the link to the article:

News agencies paying for content or investing in futures?

On Wednesday,as I was surfing around on Google+, I noticed an update by a Sarah Hill, a broadcast News Anchor at KOMU-TV. She was soliciting a “Hangout” topic for her Thursday afternoon “Hangout”. The topic…ABC News has paid Casey Anthony and a close friend $215,000 for some photographs and a “scoop” in the story.

She posted an article from the Poynter Institure outlining the payments being made from ABC News to Casey Anthony as a license fee for photos of her and her little girl. Here is the article…CLICK HERE.

In the article…Jerry Schneider, senior vp of ABC NEWS, states, “the license fees are a miniscule part of a hundreds of millions of dollars news budget, and to describe our work in terms of those licenses is to miss the entire forest for a tree… It’s getting the exclusive interview with Commander [Mark] Kelly after the congresswoman [Gabrielle Giffords] is shot; It’s getting in to see President Mubarak on an absolutely historic day. It is the team coverage in Japan with the only anchor who goes there.”

First of all…I have been thinking through this idea of news outlets paying for content, whether it is video from a stringer of the latest wreck or a high profile story that the nation is watching/reading about.

So here are my questions I am thinking through. Why do media organizations feel the need to pay for content?  Why do media organizations feel the need to compensate people for “information” or “content” in order to gain some exclusive rights to this content…thus creating leverage so they can attract an audience.

News organizations are driven by numbers which are ultimately what lead to dollars. This is beside the point, because I see both sides of the argument for paying for content. YET, I do believe they should disclose.

If you look down further in this Poynter article, you will see a comment from Mike Goldstein of Portland, OR with his online name as “dicmikeg” and he states:

“This morning, while the President was speaking to the Nation about the economy, Libya, Afghanistan and what Congress might do to put Americans back to work, the “news teams” from the major networks were absorbed with the latest in the Casey Anthony trial. CNN was kind enough to carry the press conference which, interestingly enough, was attended by reporters from the same networks that would not broadcast the event live (as there were much more pressing priorities, what with Casey’s dad not co-operating with the defense team)…Truly a sad commentary on why the American public is so unaware of what’s truly important to them and their lives.”

This part of the whole ethical spectrum has me thinking. Once again, why do organizations pay for content? Why…why do they feel the need to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain content, to get an interview, provide team coverage in Japan during a crisis.

Here is are some of my thoughts why.

1) News organizations are international influencers, crossing the digital and geographic borders. They create culture. That is the reason why the news media can shift the thinking of the American (if not international public) by the mere decision of their daily coverage. In one fail swoop, they shifted from economy back to Casey Anthony. Because of that imperialistic power of the journalistic pen, they feel the burden to pay for content. Why, because they are creating daily cultural discourse.

2) They carry a huge burden to deliver everyday. Each day, executive producers, reporters, writers, editors, are making decisions of coverage based on the prediction of audience: what will tune them in to watch and read. They are investing in futures. $215,000 is just a small investment on a potential huge return on rating points, clicks, adword campaigns, social media conversation.

3) Proliferation of so many media(s). They are competing not only against themselves and across the street competitors, they are competiting now with consumer created content. They know those pictures that Casey Anthony has in her possession are just as valuable on the open, social market as it is in the hands of mainstream media outlets. Media organizations must pay to have leverage over all the other media outlets, including the the social outlets driven by consumers.

This slippery slope is no longer a slope…it is a line that is continually being pushed again and again and again. Why, because news outlets still must maintain leverage with audiences in order to compete. That is why they bought those images (or bought the license for those images) back in 2008 and 2009. They were investing in futures…and it sounds like they got their monies’ worth.

Do I blame them? No! Should they disclose? It is up to the ethical standards of journalists in that particular discipline. Will someone smack their hand and send them to the corner if they don’t disclose? Not really. Who is the oversight on this issue…well, their colleagues. Those guys/gals across the street are doing it just as much…they want to compete as well.

So ask yourself…why do you think news agencies feel the need to buy? Why do you think they feel the need to invest?

[Update] GooglePlus – Healthcare brands/organizations…stay put!

In a note this afternoon, Pete Chasmore, founder at Mashable, explained a conversation he and his team at Mashable had with the Google Plus team. Bottom line, Mashable is not going to have a branded presence on Plus until Google releases the business accounts soon. Here is his note below:

There are many groups that have gone ahead and created branded accounts for their organizations. I know I created one for Greenville Hospital System. We have been trained to claim our “domain,” not knowing what the future holds in each social outlet/space. We do not want anyone speaking on behalf or our brand’s behalf.

Look at the latest statement from MSNBC, they had their Google Plus account taken down by Google. So, one of their editors is now posting on their behalf, using a personalized account.

So what do we do? Well, I have a few thoughts…my opinions:

1) If you have created a branded account for your organization/hospital/company/brand…hold on to it as long as you can. Keep on engaging in conversation and testing the waters with your strategy. Keep the conversation alive and ask the Circles what they are wanting from this experience.

2) Be prepared to transfer this account. We do not know how Google plans to release the new branded/business accounts, but be prepared to transfer the current Google Plus account to the new platform. This may involve sharing with your Circles that you will be transferring, but communicate with them your intentions.

3) If you have not created a branded account for your organization/hospital/company/brand…maybe consider holding off for a while. Create a personal account and get acclimated with Google Plus. This is the time to play, research, and figure out what this new outlet is all about.

4) Starting formulating some strategy for the usage of these accounts. If you have to transfer or if you are waiting to create a branded/business account, and you want to create one, starting putting together a plan on how to use and/or transfer your existing account.

5) Communicate with your Circles and let your community guide you. Let your Circles share with you and your brand how they want to engage with you on Google Plus. This will help you determine your strategy and your process when Google releases the branded/business accounts.

With this said…here is what Christian Oestlien of Google Plus has to say (Just released at 7:13pm 7/21/11):

“Here is a quick update on Google+ and businesses:

A few weeks ago we mentioned we would be doing a test of business profiles and asked people interested to apply. Believe it or not we actually had tens of thousands of businesses, charities, and other organizations apply to take part from all over the world. Many of you have reached out to me personally through Google+, e-mail, chat, and even other Googlers. Thank you. Your response has been humbling.

With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.

In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.

All of us on the Google+ effort are delighted by your engagement with this project – thank you all for taking the time to apply and offer such incredibly useful feedback. Keep it coming!”

Three Google Plus Take-Aways from Healthcare Hangout

On Monday, I had a great opportunity to try out a Google Plus “Hangout” with Reed Smith and Ed Bennett. Our goal was to try it for the first time and maybe talk a bit about Google Plus in healthcare. Great conversation and great time to sit back and learn a but from smart healthcare, digital leaders. The video is above from our Hangout. Also, Reed’s friend Bryan Person joined us…great to meet a new person on Plus.

Here is the biggest take away, three things that have me thinking about Google Plus and healthcare:

1) Google Plus is so new, we have no idea how it is going to shape or integrate into our social structure. People are still learning how to use Google’s technology and the user base is still in it’s infancy. Reed Smith brought up a good point, we do not know if this iteration is the 1.0 or even 0.5 version. So many changes are coming, more users will be joining…so Ed Bennett thinks it will be a few months to really see the major impacts in the social space.

2) Integrating Google Plus into a large healthcare/hospital system. Ed Bennett shared some knowledge…he is creating “Circles” based on service lines and departments with the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Google Plus account. As people are adding the hospital to their circles, Ed is sending them a personal note asking what type of information that would like to receive on Google Plus from the UMMC. Based on their response, Ed is putting that person into a specific Circle based on the relevant service line or department. This allows the person to receive the information they are seeking. Also, if the person asks about an area of the hospital that does not have a Circle, then you can decide to create a Circle based on that feedback.

3) We are still not sure what to expect from a business class account with Google Plus. We do know that the business accounts are right around the corner, so we are sitting back waiting to see how/if to convert our hospital business accounts when Google Plus releases this business option. We know it is right around the corner, especially given this Mashable Story about verified and business account. For this article, CLICK HERE.

Also…one side note, Apple released their Google Plus application in iTunes for the iPhone today. For many people, it is not showing up when they are doing a search in iTunes on their iPhones. If you read this post on your iPhone, CLICK HERE and it will take you to the Google Plus application in iTunes.

If you want to connect with me on Google Plus, CLICK HERE for my profile.

Where is Plus and these social technologies taking us?

Google+ is starting to shape up as more of a B2B place for me…not a place to engage “consumers.” Now I am sure others are finding situations that are different. Let me clarify a bit, a place to engage in professional communication between colleagues and other businesses. Very few of my family members are on Plus…I am sure that will evolve.

I know many individuals are using Plus right now in the same work flow, if not similar, to other social outlets. It is a distribution point of content.

I am also thinking through how we will use this outlet in healthcare? Since this is a fluid environment, a place to engage in broader conversation…it will be interesting to see the healthcare applications. There are already so many channels to reach patients…will this be another place? Or will this be a place for medical practitioners and leadership to engage in professional communication.

Using Circles to engage in private conversations, it is a platform for creation and sharing of knowledge. I am already having physicians asking me how they should use Plus. I know one is specifically using it to stay in touch with family across the country, utilizing Hangouts for group video chats…a means to keep families connected.

It is so fun to sit back and watch the evolutions of technology grow, change, and shape culture. Twitter, Facebook, and so many others have shaped the current culture we live today. But, is our attention span so short that we will forget yesterday’s social outlet as we learn the next. What will happen to Plus after the honeymoon period is over and the pendulum swings back closer to center? What is the center?

The more and more I write, the more and more I wish all of my clients were on plus. This would be a great place to engage and share ideas. A great place to chat online or jump into a Hangout if we need human interaction beyond the typeface.

I have a theory though…Plus is going to alter our current cultural experience online. It will break us away from short chats and into longer form discussions online. It will make us question whether we should have a blog on WordPress or Tumblr, yet write fluidly in this space for a broad or finite group of people in a “Circle”. I see academics leveraging the interactivity of Plus to engage in scholarship in a whole new manner. Even teach completely through plus, using Circles as class roles.

I am 37, and I sit here getting ready to have my first child…Rose Frances. The velocity of technology and social media(s) have made me wonder what she will experience? What will Rose be using is elementary school and so on…to communicate and share information. Will outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Plus, Gowalla, Ping, Pinterest, etc. still be around?

Ok…back to the original question: how are we really going to use Plus? Are we going to use it like all the other outlets or will we change the way we communicate based on the new opportunities Plus has offered us…to participate in mutual, technological discourse? Plus is just a technology…that is it.

SEO: Google Plus One vs. Facebook Like -> Better +1 & Like

Last week, I wrote a post detailing the effects of creating Google Plus Profile and how it directly impacts your rankings in Google. If you look at the image below…you can see what I was detailing in my previous post, showing where my Google Plus Profile is located in a simple Google Search of my name.

But a friend of mine (Mandy Vavrinak) commented on the blog post raising a question about a search.

So let’s take a look at what will happen with a search of Bobby Rettew:

Notice what is the top item in this search, my Facebook Profile…interesting. Well Duh, this makes since especially given this article from back in October 2010, the Bing/Facebook search deal. is influenced by the number of “Likes” in a search, as detailed in this blog post. BTW, my Google Plus account was way back in page fifteen of with this search.

So, what are we learning from this little discovery, a Facebook Profile  is to as is Google Profile is to, when it comes to SEO. Thus the “Plus One” concept in a Google search result will influence rankings in a Google search similar to the influence of a “Like” in a search.

So Google is looking at our impressions within a search result with the Plus One similar to the “Like” in Facebook. By clicking +1 beside a search result, it gives you stamp of approval. These +1’s will show up in search results if your are logged into your Google account, and allow you to click it you have a Google Plus account.

Three weeks ago, I noticed something new in my WordPress blog. I have the “1-Click/Retweet/Like” plugin by LinksAlpha installed. It let me know it was time to update this plugin. When I updated, it added the +1 for Google Plus as one of the options to share. Now I have it placed at the bottom of each post.

This allows people to give a post a +1 as a sign of sharing in Google Plus. Each plus one helps a blog post, a website, a brand in Google’s rankings. The same as clicking the “Like” for’s rankings. Ultimately, it is a way to show approval and help your favorite pieces of content show up in search rankings.

So here it is…if you have a Google Plus account and a Facebook account, you need to “+1” just as much as you “Like” to help your favorite pieces of content in search rankings. This will ultimately share with your friends in both outlets the things that your like the most. This influencing our social networks and social rankings of content.

Oh…by the way, there is a change in my Google Profile ranking in Google. Last week (July 6, 2011), my Google Plus Profile was listed number four in a search for my name, now it is number one:

Google Plus & Social Outlets…WE have to stay grounded as Practitioners

We still have to stay grounded my friends…we have to stay grounded. As I was thinking through the hype of another social outlet to be added to the users’ menu, a song came to mind. Do you remember the song “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen? This tune keeps on popping up in my mind, thinking through the lyrics. Now, I am not singing the same lyrics to the tune…I have changed to “Another One Called Plus”. Yes…I think Queen would probably baulk at singing these lyrics. There is an irony in the changing the lyris, I think.

Yes…there is another one at the playing table, and within a week Google Plus has the buzz of a major player in the user arena(s). The more and more I read in the social sphere…people are comparing Google Plus to other outlets. We are seeing more user reviews making comparisons to other social outlets, because that is all they know. But…it is just another platform to connect.

We as communication professionals have to be careful not to fall back into a paradigm as technicians. Not only jump on the bandwagon and focus on the technology and the excitement of the technology, but instead trying to learn how users might interact with this new platform. Now granted it is being reported the Google Plus has experienced close to 5 to 9 million users in the first two weeks of this beta release. This is all about how your interpret the numbers, like in this article from

“Google+ has more than 5 million users in the United States alone during its first two weeks of existence, according to a couple of creative calculations by early users of the fledgling social network.

Open June 28 to limited field-testing, Google+ is Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) major bid to bite into the massive growth and influence of Facebook, which has more than 750 million users and poses a threat to Google’s display ad business.”

BUT…there are still communities still interacting in all the other platforms and digital media outlets. As this new platform emerges, we have to stay vigilant in our roles as communication practitioners. Each platform is going to apply to different communities of users and how they communicate. We have to sit back, educate ourselves with these new platforms, let the honeymoon dust settle, then see how/if we can apply this to what we are doing.

I do not think there is going to be a mass exodus from Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other social/digital mediums. I think people will will use the medium that best serves their abilities to communicate with the people they want connect with regularly. But, we must educate ourselves with these new technologies and see how/if we can apply our communication knowledge to this platform as practitioners. Whether we use online video to communicate our message, write a blog, create a Facebook campaign, do a media buy, or even implement a digital media strategy…we need to assess this platform and see how it might play into how we communicate our message.

Remember…it is about people, stupid!

Google+: Circles is getting us back to basics, communities! Removing the noise hopefully.

I think one of the big things many of us in the this social space have been feeling for a while is the explosion of noise in the social space. More and more outlets, channels, places to shout our information.

Twitter was so fun two years ago, not many people were using this outlet…so it was a smaller community base of people interacting. Now it has exploded.

More and more people are wanting to lock down and limit their friends in this “social space”, protecting against the mass markets. Yes we can “Like” pages, but there are restrictions. The one thing that Facebook has going for it, the ability to have community conversations.

I would take part in Twitter chats and notice many of those same people would jump over to Facebook to have more private, engaged conversations…away from the mass 140 character updates. The hardest thing about Facebook is the restrictions on some of the interactive flexibility to share different types of media.  The other concept that helped Facebook, is the idea of being a “Friend”, which is a two way decision.

Twitter has a great concept, but the idea of “Followers” is a bit egotistical fundamentally. People would, and still do, focus on how many “Followers” they do or do not have. That name created a culture of competition, a race that fulfilled most American egos…I want more. This notion turned Twitter into a mass communication piece…just people buying into a culture of amplification.

This idea of “Circles” is intriguing. It takes the real time update concept of Twitter, combining with the ability to attach media with updates from Facebook, and combines the discussion idea of Wave…into Circles. I am actually wondering why they did not call Google Plus….Google Circles.

You have the ability to create a private room, a private place for a group of friends to interact and share. I have read so many people saying that they are going to go back to less numbers of people and move to a more intimate group of friends they know using Circles.

We want to be close to our friends. We want to share and be heard. Mass digital media has created so much noise that we are searching for a place to have conversations with friends we know in person and people we have met online. We want to have a closer relationship and feel open to speak freely, away from the public scrutiny of bad Tweets. The many politicians and public figures have shown us that Twitter’s amplification can hurt our credibility, especially when we share the wrong picture, say the wrong thing, or mis-represent the wrong brand.

We just want a place to be ourselves and share with our friends. It looks like Plus might provide that refuge…Circles is a place to be ourselves again and feel open and honest to share. So we do not have to change our handles to names that no-one knows and put avatars up to hide behind.

I am not sure how Plus will evolve, especially when they open it up to business accounts later this year. What are you doing when you go into Plus for the first time? Are you honestly re-thinking who you will let in, or are you just transferring the same online friendships and tendencies you had in other social outlets. Or, are you looking for a richer experience online with a tight nit group of friends. I know I am, I have a circle just for my Frat Brothers and one for my close friends.

I guess we will see what happens!

Google Plus: Circles…Circles…Circles…step back Facebook?


Oh yes…I have been completely impressed by the Circles concept in Google Plus. But my only reference point here is my Facebook account settings and Twitter Lists…but this is completely different.

So may times I have wanted to only interact with a group of people in a discussion, but has the interactivity of Facebook. I have found a link, an idea, a video, a picture, or an opinion…and only share quickly with a specific group of friends. This can be done by just creating a Circle of connections (people) then updating your status for these to see.

This to me is where I am beginning to see some value, and where I see where Google Wave has some influence. I can quickly create a “Circle” where I add friends/people/connections, then I can interact with them and only them. No more worrying about trying to separate a status update from those who you feel do not need to see this information. So many times on Facebook, I wanted to share a video with just a group of friends…but was worried about either upsetting someone on my public timeline or marginalizing someone based on the content of this update.

If you look below…you can see how an update will go only to a group of people are just in my “Friends” Circle.

Now…only my friends are interacting with this content. Just the friends I have dragged to this circle below:

So what does this mean…I can do more collaborative discussion online. I can create a “Circle” for a discussion and interact with them on the fly, separating that discussion from others I have connected with on Google Plus. This opens up a new paradigm for a person like me. I can create a “Circle” for a class I am teaching, creating discussions between the class members. I can create a “Circle” for a client, using this as an opportunity to have discussions, share media, share links, etc…all on the fly.

The other thing I like, is that you can extend this conversation beyond a circle. You can click to add more people and select to add a “Circle” of people to include in this update. You can also select “Extended Circles” as an option where this update is extended to that “Circle’s” group of friends. So you have grown you network of influence of an update by selecting the option for an additional degree of people to take part in that discussion.

You can add other “Circles” or even make the update public. Very cool…you can decide on the fly who you will interact with in one drop down menu. This is under the assumption you have set-up all your Circles of contacts. Pretty Cool Stuff!

Here is a video from Google about Circles:

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