Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Networks: Are you in?

We've all heard the phrases, "Everyone's doing it", or "Anyone who's anyone will be there". To me, these cliches epitomize the world of social networks. Though the social networks I'm talking about are the posh "electronic type", people (PR people especially) have been taking advantage of social networks for years.

Basically the gathering of poeple who share the same values, beliefs, friends, dislikes, or visions create a social network. However, online social networks are the new(ish) way to connect with people who share such similarities.

Facebook (2004) and MySpace(2003) are the two networks that have been in the spotlight for several years now. The polls are up and down regarding which is "better" or "more popular". However, one thing is clear: social networks are PR practitioners opportunity to connect with the masses.

Like any other newfangaled form of Internet media, there are pros and cons of using social networks. MySpace, in particular, has many design problems due to the fact that most designers are amatures and create HTML codes that are OUT OF CONTROL. This often makes pages load slow as molassas or creates additional problems.

However, despite the inevitable short commings of social media, creating profiles can serve as a valuable tool to attract followers. This task should not be taken lightly! The average Joe could spend countless hours on MySpace and Facebook with no purpose. In accordance, someone with an actual goal in mind would need to learn how to navigate the system and work functions in order to have a noteworthy profile. In addition, constant (shall I even say relentless) monitoring is necessary to keep up with the myrad of requests, notices, etc that come with having a social network profile. WHEW, that's a lot of work to tackle!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Feed Me: information for the hungry mind

RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication) are a hip and convenient way to get the info you want (such as blog entries, news headlines, video postings) when you want it. RSS feeds are a way for readers to receive notifications when their favorite Web sites or blogs have been updated. Unlike receiving the daily newspaper or a magazine, RSS feeds will sort through updated information and notify readers ONLY when information they want to know about has been updated. Think of RSS as your nosy gossip-guru friend: they know all the new news, and won't hesitate to give you the low-down when something new and of interest happens. In this way, RSS filters available information and notifies you only about topics you have indicated interest in...pretty cool, huh?

So now for the good stuff, RSS feeds are F-R-E-E! What could be better than that? Unlike receiving an online subscription that you have to filter through to find what you want, what you want is pre-filtered and comes to you. There is one tiny problem: not every site offers RSS :( So, unfortunately for now, readers won't be able to get notification for every single tidbit of new info they might be interested, but most big name and savvy Web sites have already made the move to offer RSS.

So let's recap: RSS is simple (by it's own recognition), free, and gives you want-so what could go wrong? I will pose this question to you and offer a prediction myself: like anything that is "free" sooner or later there is a gimmick. I estimate that sometime soon, RSS notifications will be accompanied by advertisements from endorsers to distract you from the information you want to see (probably one of those darn flashing slot machines that would send an epileptic into a fit). After all, nothing on the Internet stays "really simple" for too long.

Monday, October 6, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog

According to B.L. Ochman's September 2008 article in Advertising Age, there are 10 reasons that a company should not blog. She states that blogs are OFTEN boring, impersonal, unoriginal, and time consuming--among other things. In addition, a good blogger must be a active part of the blog community. However, this activity is no substitute for marketing, advertising, a quick fix, or a cheap solution, and you can't guarantee traffic.

In my opinion, this article is a prime example for people who are fans of the good ol' closed system. Though Ms. Ochman has a valid point, blogging is an extensive process that takes skill, dedication, and research--it can be a valuable tool when utilized correctly by a company CEO.

Indeed, blogging is a phenomenon that is not yet completely predictable. My opinion: SO WHAT!! If you have the dedication, time, expertise, and creative voice to communicate with others through blog, go for it. Thought the market isn't always predictable or reliable, it can never hurt to give it a good shot!