Facebook and “Future Community”

Like many of you, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Facebook privacy issue. However, unless it’s central to your job (aka tech pundits), most people are way too busy to keep up with the changing features and policies from week to week, or all the particulars of the last brouhaha. Still, if you took the time to look closely enough to form an opinion, you may have found yourself being pulled in one direction or another – meaning the privacy camp or the open social graph camp.

When Facebook became available en masse, most of us made immediate connections to other early adopters and soon prodded colleagues, friends and family to join. For many, the next wave was locating people from our past – forging lost bonds with old flames, childhood friends, high school classmates and the like. Facebook soon became a part of our present and our past, with a constant stream of personal updates and suggestions to connect with new and/or old friends. For some, Facebook offered immersion in virtual worlds and, in essence, membership in new — and sometimes addicting — communities, created by social games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Over time, our attachment to Facebook continued to become exceedingly more and more personal. Lest we forget, it’s a business. And so it goes – with more personal details come more opportunities for marketing and selling to your every interest. Being in a constant state of evolution to develop revenue streams and achieve profitability is as much a part of Facebook’s soul as the free services they provide to both you and me.

As we look more closely at the privacy issues and the idea of “future community” experiences, it’s easy to see that having a say when it comes to who you are connected to within the Facebook social graph is vital. While some users may have been gung-ho to share “Activities, Interests, Music, Movies, Books, Television” with “Friends” past and present; they don’t want to be connected to everyone else on Facebook who lists “Bossanova” and “Sublime” in the Music field of their Profile. The “disconnect” in this instance was between intention and execution. Similarly, most users intended to share favorite musical genres and artists, along with Interests like running, wine and yoga, with their present and past communities. Then, Facebook decided – without user consent – to connect us to new “future communities” of others on Facebook who listed the same information.

Thankfully, Facebook recently heeded the outcries of some of the public and rolled out new privacy controls (further explained here). But, it certainly sparks some thought… What community experiences do you seek in general? How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

A curious and social group, we thrive on interacting with new people, otherwise known as “future community.” So whether it’s the staff and patrons at local coffee shops, other parents and children at the playground, the checkers and baggers at our local markets, or strangers at the airport — these polite chats and sometimes surprising and inspired conversations comprise connections with others that nurture humanity and individual creativity and kindness. So back to the question: How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

Just like the offline examples above, certainly possibilities to make meaningful connections as part of a “future community” via Facebook do exist. Facebook sees these potential benefits whether it be connections with advertisers or other individuals. For now, I can accept the advertisements that key off some of my personal data (it’s a business after all), but I can also be at ease that who I count as part of my “future community” is up to me.

How does Facebook power community for you?

An Easy Social Media Lesson From The Peanuts: Talk With Me, Not At Me

One of the most famous cartoon dynamics could pretty much sum up the difference between successful social marketing and unsuccessful social marketing: The Peanuts. I’m sure you recall that when the grown ups are talking at the children, all the children hear are muffled, annoying sounds. But when the children are talking with each other, they are interactive, listening and clear with one another.

A lot of what we spend our time talking with clients and prospects about in meetings these days is social media. Obviously, it’s the hot new buzzword, especially in marketing and PR, and many companies are still trying to figure it all out: “Is it necessary for us, how will it help us, who should manage it, are we doing okay with our current presence?”

Most of the time, the companies we speak with have some sort of presence started in social networks – usually, with one of the more popular and well-known networks such as Facebook or Linkedin. Maybe they’ve posted a few photos on Flickr and some videos on YouTube.  They’ve taken steps to establish accounts and make a few updates, or they  might even be quite active on Twitter. But most of the time – if they’re asking for help – they lack the “Three I’s” – a strategy for integration, interaction and intriguing content.

Here’s a simple way to get started on a strategy that involves the three I’s – and ensures that your messages don’t come across like a Peanuts parent:

  • Social media is about community
  • Community is about relationships
  • Relationships involve hard work, consistent communication, trust, and emotion

If you keep these elements in mind, you’ll begin to see the subtle – yet important – differences between talking at your audiences and talking with your audiences. People tend to listen more – and remember more – when they’re involved in the conversation and you show that you care about them – either by asking their opinion, mentioning something relevant to them or connecting in a unique (intriguing) way. You can’t build a relationship – or a community – if you do all the talking (you know, like those Twitter accounts that are just links to a company’s news releases, or a Facebook fan page that never actually involves the fans.)

How are you integrating social media into your marketing plan to talk with your constituents and not just at them? Are you asking questions? Responding to answers? Listening to opinions? Have you integrated your content across networks to ensure an ongoing and compelling brand story? Are you putting the right resources behind your social media efforts to build a community and relationships? Step back and take a look – making some minor changes in your approach can make a huge difference in your success.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 01/18/09

Our Persuasive Picks series returns this week with five social media, marketing and PR-related posts that caught my eye this week.

Online Reputation Management Done Right: What CEOs Can Learn From Hulu’s Jason Kilar
Marjorie Kase from Markyr Media chronicles how Hulu CEO Jason Kilar made the right moves in responding to the online backlash of an abrupt and unannounced change in Hulu programming.

How Not to be a Key Online Influencer
There is certainly no shortage of posts on the web about all the “right” ways to use Twitter as a communications tool. David Henderson shares an eye-opening story of one bad judgment “Tweet” and the importance of thinking before you type in the social media space.

A Crash Course in Comments
Chris Brogan shares 15 tips on improving blog comment interaction with your reading community.

Community building: Getting members active and addicted
Martin Reed from the CommunitySpark blog presents the 10th entry in his series of posts on developing a new online community from scratch. Be sure to go back and check out the previous posts in the series for more excellent advice.

Tech PR in Troubled Times
This pick actually came out last week, but definitely falls into the “must mention” category. Robert Scoble interviews Joshua Reynolds of Hill and Knowlton’s global technology practice and gets his take on the Tech PR landscape in the middle of the current economy.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 09/01/08

Podcastin TrendsPodcasting dead or alive? TrendsSpotting marketing indicators
Taly Weiss from Trendspotting.com dives head first into a well researched post about podcasting trends and whether podcasts still provide value as a new media tool.

A List of Social Media Marketing Examples
Peter Kim launched an extremely valuable list of brands that are currently using social media. He invites readers to contribute to this ongoing list via the comments section where he’ll integrate submissions into the main post on a periodic basis.

Making the case for social media in PR
Shannon Paul knocks another one out of the park with this great post on stepping back from the hype of social media tools and getting back to basic communication.

Social Punishment: The “Bozo” Feature
Every once in a while Community Managers need to deal with “troublemakers” within their online communities. Jeremiah Owyang approaches the subject by suggesting the “Bozo” feature as potential solution. Be sure to dive into the comments section for a good discussion on the topic.

A fresh take on the browser
One of the most blogged about topics this week was the release of Chrome, Google’s new web browser. This post on the Google blog started the avalanche. Continue the reading from these Techmeme links.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/21/08

AOL is MeltingFull Text Of AOL Email: XDrive, AOL Pictures, MyMobile And Bluestring To Shut Down
Assets at AOL continue to crumble with the announcement of four product cuts following the recent coverage of cuts across cuts with their blogging properties their blogging properties. Mike Arrington shares the full text of the official email from AOL EVP Kevin Conroy in this post.

Facebook Connect: OpenID Without the Email
Nick O’Neill from the SocialTimes.com blog shares his view on Facebook’s recently announced “Facebook Connect” initiative that was announced at this week’s F8 Facebook Developer’s Conference. Audio of the Mark Zuckerburg Keynote is also available in a separate post.

What ‘Facebook Connect’ Means for Corporate Websites
The topic of Facebook Connect continues with this great post from Jeremiah Owyang that discusses what this new offering from Facebook might mean to corporations.

What are the five strengths of a Community Manager?
Many of last week’s picks centered around the topic of community. Here’s another good one to add to the bunch written by Mario Sundar, Community Evangelist & Chief Blogger at LinkedIn.

A Guy Walks Into a Bar…
Scott Monty reaches out to the Twitter community in search of answers (punch lines) to the question “How many social media experts does it take to change a lightbulb?” The humorous replies are featured in this post.