Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide


September 2011

Facebook: renewing the love affair

Look at Post It notes.

They seem like such an obvious invention, right?

What about liquid paper? Apple peelers? Tampons? Backpacks? Well, once upon a time they didn’t exist.

Neither did Facebook’s new Cover Photo – yet now it’s here, it seems so bleeding obvious! A large photo at the top of our Facebook profile. As if we couldn’t have had one years ago.

Last week I dragged myself out of bed to listen to Mark Zuckerberg announce the latest changes to Facebook (billed as some of the most fundamental changes in a long time) and the Cover Photo was one of those changes.

Since then I’ve had a chance to test the new Timeline features including the Cover Photo, which I must say is a lot of fun (see my effort below).

I put my Twitter handle image into the Facebook cover photo
I put my Twitter handle image into the Facebook cover photo

Now one week later, these things have struck me about the Facebook changes:

  • Why didn’t we all think of Cover Photo a long time ago? It seems so obvious. Insert one large picture at top of Facebook profile. Hardly rocket science.
  • The new Timeline is both funny and startling. You have the option to easily click onto a past year, and have your Facebook content from that period served up to you. You’ll laugh at the old photos (especially if you change your hairstyle a lot). You’ll shake your head at how you viewed some things that seemed so important then, but are of little consequence now. And you may be dismayed to see images of you cuddling people that you don’t even associate with any longer! (Steel yourself).
  • You may feel pressure to contribute to Facebook once again. If the new Timeline is “the story of your life” you better make sure it looks good, right? I’ve already heard of people going back over their timeline, ‘cleaning it up’, trying to add more images, and in short working on their personal brand. So the Timeline can make you feel the same eagerness you felt when you opened up a Facebook account for the very first time.

For many of us, our relationship with Facebook has been steadily souring. We’re either tired of Facebook, busy playing on other spaces like Twitter or Tumblr, or wary of the privacy issues.

But I believe the result of the recent Facebook changes may be as Zuckerberg envisioned: it could renew our love affair with Facebook.

During his announcement at the f8 conference, Zuckerberg talked about emotional connections and the Timeline video was certainly very emotive.

If Facebook can get its 800 million users to actually care about their Profile again and enjoy each other’s timelines, maybe Facebook can begin to claw back some of that love (not to mention even more of our internet time).

Mind you, I don’t know how long this renewed love affair will last. If you’re anything like me, you never check other people’s profiles. Hell, I’ve even stopped looking at the profiles of new connections. Once upon a time, it might have been fun to see what an old acquaintance is up to – but now, who has time? Not me.

So I suspect that while we may tend to our new Profiles and Timelines, this won’t necessarily mean we spent a great deal of time digesting our friends’ profiles over the longer term.

Or is that just me?

Do you look at friends’ profile pages, or just spend time on your newsfeed? Are you looking forward to the new Cover Photo and Timeline? Tell me what you think.

Related blogs:  5 Reasons the new Facebook Could Make You Happy and Facebook Flashbacks

5 reasons new Facebook could make you happy

Facebook is the world’s most popular website.

So it stands to reason that when the interface changes, some people freak out.

There’s a lot of online grumbling about Facebook’s latest changes. They won’t suit everyone. They never do. But I think they should make some Facebook users very happy indeed.

Those happy people are:

  1. Facebook addicts who absolutely love keeping up with friends minute-by-minute. They’ll like the new ticker feed. They may also like the feel of “top stories” which could give them a sense of Facebook being constantly fresh. (Whether it is or not is an entirely different story and depends on your Facebook network).
  2. Facebook users with thousands of friends. They’ll be happy with the new Facebook list options.  Lists enable you to maintain your reach, but easily keep in touch with ‘real friends’ by having them sorted onto a handy list you can quickly refer to. Like Twitter lists, this can mean that you won’t miss out on the news that really matters to you. (Top news is trying to do this for you too, but Facebook’s algorithm won’t always get it right).
  3. Again, Facebook users with thousands of friends might like subscribe. If you have that sort of Facebook presence, chances are you haven’t been too circumspect with letting people into your friendship world. You probably aren’t too concerned with privacy. You may have a goal of connecting more with the general public. So allowing people to subscribe to you is a natural extension of that. Just be mindful of how ‘subscribe’ may change Facebook for you, taking you into the public realm. If you’re concerned about your personal brand online, be wary of what you’re posting.
  4. People who love sharing photos. Facebook has made the photo layout more attractive: larger pics, plus a nice grid layout when you upload multiple pics. (They’re looking more like photos uploaded to GooglePlus now).
  5. Overzealous stalking  bosses who you’ve friended on Facebook – they can see when you’re spending time there according to the ticker. (Okay, that one’s a little far fetched. I hope).

As with any Facebook updates, it’s wise to spend some time learning what they mean and seeing if you need to make adjustments to your settings. The image below shows the help screen that will pop up when you’ve been given the new Facebook:

Facebook guides you through latest changes
Facebook guides you through latest changes

What makes me happy?

Well, I don’t fit many of the categories above.

I don’t sit on Facebook. While I duck in daily, I don’t use Facebook to keep up with friends or other connections. I use it more follow brands and gain ideas. So the ticker doesn’t do it for me, and top stories won’t make me visit Facebook more. (Interesting thing about the ticker? If one Friend has jumped onto FB and taken out quite a few actions, they quickly flood the ticker stream. That can be boring. And it makes them look frenzied.)

I’ve deliberately kept my Facebook friendship numbers low and I cull now and then. I don’t want more than a few hundred people there. It’s a place where I want to comfortably share family updates. I prefer to use Twitter to network and make ‘public’ connections. So I don’t think I’ll allow people to subscribe to me, as that would force me to rethink my Facebook philosophy (there’s an option to make your status update ‘public’ or ‘friends’ but I’d rather keep it simple).

Also, I don’t have thousands of friends that would necessitate me making many lists.

So the one thing I do like? The larger photos. They rock!

What about you? Has Facebook made you happy with any of these changes?

Not Queuing, Racing … A Cool New App

I recently completed my own Amazing Race across Adelaide. The clock was ticking, I had a prize waiting for me, and I wasn’t letting other pedestrians get in my way. But why?

Have you heard of the NoQ app?

It’s an Adelaide development that helps you beat queues at venues like coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, pizza bars and more.

If you use NoQ, you can place an order using your smartphone, pay in advance and easily collect your order – beating the queue.

I’ll be honest. When I first heard about NoQ, I thought it’d be an app I wouldn’t use. Why bother? I can live with queuing for just a few minutes. And how on earth was I to predict when I’d want a coffee / pizza / baguette?

But then the opportunity to test it out presented itself – I was standing in a queue at Bean Bar on Waymouth Street Adelaide, staring at an advertisement for the NoQ app.

It was the second time in two days I’d had to queue at that Bean Bar. It’s not my usual café and it’s not in my neighbourhood. I’d been going there because a client’s office was nearby.

I had another meeting scheduled with that client the very next day. And I decided I wasn’t going to queue for the third day in a row (because that would be really stupid, right?)

Back at my office, I downloaded the app, made my order (one large weak latte please. I know, I know. All the espresso drinkers are shuddering), selected my very specific timeframe (ten minutes before my client meeting) and paid using credit card.  All done. It was quite exciting – an experiment I was looking forward to.

The next day … I was running late.

There was no way I would collect the NoQ coffee on time. I left my office at the same time it was due for collection. Impossible.

So, one of the unexpected side effects of using the NoQ app was my anxiety level!

I knew there was a hot latte waiting for me, and although it was only a few blocks away, it felt like the other side of the world. Adelaide has never seen a woman move across the CBD so fast. Perhaps.

What would happen to my latte, I wondered? What about the Bean Bar staff? NoQ was new for them too. Would they be biting their nails, craning their necks for this “Michelle” to turn up for her pathetic excuse of a coffee? Or would they simply shrug and toss my lame latte down the sink because I was clearly beyond the 10.50am timeframe I had agreed to. No soup for you.

NoQ App
NoQ App

Approximately seven minutes late, I dashed into the Bean Bar.

I had only to gasp that I was Michelle, when the friendly barista reached atop a heater and rescued the large cup waiting for me. He was all smiles. And so was I.

So in an ideal world, NoQ will help beat queues and possibly avoid some stress. As long as you make it on time!

My favourite part of the app? The fact that I’ve already paid for my order. No money needed to change hands – it was just “grab the coffee and go”. Swift and easy.

(ps I made it to the client meeting on time).

A rockstar Foursquare deal

Finding a car park outside a popular shopping centre is a trying task.

It’s dull, frustrating, wastes time and sometimes even leads to car accidents. What wouldn’t you give for your own dedicated rockstar car park, right outside the shopping centre’s entrance?

Well, the management at Westfield West Lakes is now using Foursquare to help you do just that.

If you’re the Mayor of the mall, you have your very own car park. And it’s a convenient one, too!

Mayor car park sign, Westfield West Lakes
Foursquare Mayor car park sign, Westfield West Lakes

This is one of the best local uses of Foursquare I’ve seen, even though the geolocation/social media tool has been around in Australia since January 2010.

At that time, I wrote about the potential for Foursquare. The following year,  I wrote about my frustration with the platform because it wasn’t offering me anything tangible (Why I’m Quitting Foursquare). The competition to be ahead of my Foursquare friends, coupled with the reward of virtual badges, just wasn’t enough for me anymore. I wanted more real-world rewards. I wanted my favourite venues to acknowledge me.

So the Westfield example is a sensational one.

I’ve been corresponding with the centre management about the car park promotion, and I’m told there are even more exciting ‘reserved spots’ coming soon! It sounds like fun.

So what else has been happening with local Foursquare offers? More venues now – especially pubs and clubs – are offering free serves of meals, discount meals or a free drink. Some retailers are offering discounts when you spend $100.

But I’m yet to see something supercreative.

There’s a definite opportunity for business to make a splash in this space, not just in terms of customer loyalty and sales, but in terms of PR too.

What sort of Foursquare deal would excite you?

Journalists who tweet their own news

While Twitter can help the media to cover events, it can also enable journalists to share their own personal stories along the way. It’s one of the many things I love about social media.

To illustrate this, I’m going to use the New York Times social media editor Lexi Mainland as an example.

When Hurricane Irene tormented the New York region in late August 2011, the New York Times set up a separate Twitter account to house #Irene specific updates. It was called @NYTLive  and its purpose is outlined in a great article on Poynter.

Lexi Mainland was one of those maintaining @NYTLive while the appetite for #Irene news was strongest.  The @NYTLive account told its followers which journalists were tweeting when. And when Lexi wasn’t tweeting as @NYTLive, she shared her own personal experiences of the effects Irene had on New York.

See the sample tweets below (apologies if these are difficult to read, as Lexie has chosen a font colour too subtle for!)

Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet
Lexi Mainland tweet

This isn’t a blog about whether it’s right or wrong for journalists to “be in the story” as opposed to reporting stories.

Different journalists have different styles, and like all of us, differing boundaries when it comes to work/life balance.

What a journalist shares on social media will also be influenced by their employer and their target audience. But for Lexi Mainland, an officially-titled ocial media editor, it makes absolute sense to be using Twitter herself to engage with others, keep in touch with the community etiquette of the space, and maintain her social media skills.

More and more media organisations are introducing social media policies too. No doubt their employers are considering the pros and cons of their journalists having a Twitter account – and what they might be used for. Is a journalist’s own account for a) sourcing story information? b) promoting the next edition? c) building a personal brand or company brand? d) being in touch with the breaking news? It’s probably most of the above.

Whatever the reason, I’m enjoying following some journalists on Twitter and I’m glad they’ve finally entered the fray. Of course, many journalists have been tweeters from the start, including our local @saline. I’ll never forget though, the night I noticed @Sandra_Sully had her Twitter handle beamed on the screen as she read the news. Now, that’s Twitter going mainstream …

Related article: Who owns your social media account?

Facebook flashbacks: the laughter and tears of abandoned pages

Do you remember what Facebook Group you joined first?

I remember joining Derek Zoolander’s Group for Really Ridiculously Good Looking People mostly because everyone I knew was in it (and of course because I belonged there). I also joined a fan group for The Chaser, the ABC TV series.

Facebook flashback: SuperPoke!
Facebook flashback: SuperPoke!

That was years ago and I’ve since left both groups, but it got me thinking about ageing Facebook Groups and Pages.

We’ve all seen abandoned Facebook spaces, and aren’t they are sad? They’re often overrun by spam or the bleak message ‘there are no Recent Posts’. It’s like spider webs are hanging from the corner of the screen and everyone’s partying in the room next door, leaving the page to its lonesome self.

What about the oldest Facebook pages? What are they?

I Googled the question and there were few relevant, reliable results. I searched the topic in Facebook and you can imagine the messy results I received there. Facebook’s oldest pages simply aren’t easy to find (but if you come across a link, I’d appreciate you sharing it!)

While I was looking through Facebook, I did find this gem: Students Against Public Facebook Access (Official Petition) That’s right – they didn’t want Facebook to continue to extend its membership into the non-college world! My, how that horse has bolted.

Old Facebook pages and groups can be a time capsule – a screenshot of an era that can be fascinating and funny.

Here’s some Facebook pages well past their use-by dates:

Ok enough is enough, send in the thunderbirds to catch Osama bin Laden!!!

Official Petition Against the K-Fed and Britney Breakup

Athens 2004 Olympics

Kevin 07 vs Howard

Triple J Hottest 100 2008 Predictions

Julia Gillard for Prime Minister

We all know Joey and Dawson are soul mates

Anthony Callea – The Prayer

Like if you think crazy frog is freaking annoying!!!

It was big news in April 2010 when the American Library of Congress said it would archive Twitter. (Did you know this project is still under construction – see this article on the Library of Congress Twitter Archive One Year Later).

But who’s archiving Facebook?

If you’re running company/official pages or communities online, it’s important you make your own backups and have an archive. But for future generations, who’s going to maintain the “Library of Facebook”? If anyone can find me that answer too, I’d be grateful …

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