New Web Browser: RockMelt

RockMelt is a brand new web browser that is arguably the biggest threat to Google. After jumping into beta Monday, the new "Facebook browser" received mixed reviews from bloggers. Some bloggers do not believe that RockMelt has fundamentally changed the browser game so far. Also, because RockMelt is still a beta, the public can still expect many refinements.

RockMelt has received $10 million in funding from some well known Web executives, most notably, Andreeseen Horowitz, from the venture capitalist firm.

The reason RockMelt poses such a threat to Google is that Google's biggest competitor is probably Facebook, and Rockmelt is based on Chromium. In fact, the browser is set up to look like a fancy implementation of Google Chrome. In order to first launch RockMelt, you have to sign in with your Facebook account, after consenting to Facebook permissions, like allowing the site to access your information. By doing this, Rockmelt stores and synchronizes your data on its servers.

ZDNet's Violet Blue speaks about the new browser:

"The real heartbreak with RockMelt came when we realized there was no way to really fine-tune the mess known as our Facebook contacts. RockMelt allows you to see who is online, and separate out “starred” favorites into a separate list. But then that list is in alphabetical order, and that’s that.

What about all those people you don’t care about who you are sorta friends with but don’t want to share anything with? They’re right there! That guy – you know, that guy – the one who comments on everything you do and is online all the time just in case you are too? That guy who makes you feel like Facebook is humping your leg every time you log in? He’s right there!"

Blogger Chris Dawson reflects on his use of RockMelt. He claims that when he tries to sign in through his Twitter feed in one of the sidebars, when he clicks the embedded link to "Go to Twitter," it fails to sign him in using the credentials provides him the feed.

Dawson, in his blog article for ZDNet, discusses the terms of the competitive landscape for the new browser:

To make your own opinions on RockMelt, go to the RockMelt website and request an invitation to the browser.

Social Media Monopoly

Fox 4 Roast of Social Media

How Much Are Your Favorite Social Networks Worth?

Facebook: $33 Billion

In February, SecondShares, a group of four that provides analysis "on the companies driving the social media revolution," released a report that argued Facebook, "the most powerful website the world has known," will soon be worth more than $100 billion. Most people, though, seem to be arguing that the company, which has more than 500 million active users, is worth somewhere between $23 billion and $33 billion. Forbes recently estimated that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worth $6.9 billion by figuring Facebook's overall value to be $23 billion, but investors have paid up to $76 for a single share in the company, assuming it could be worth significantly more.

Twitter: $1 Billion

They haven't really found a way to make money yet, but the founders of Twitter know how to build a product that nobody knew they wanted until it existed. The microblogging service, which forces its roughly 50 million users to craft messages in only 140 characters or less, is set to close a $100 million round of financing any minute now even though it's still sitting on $30 million left after its last round. With investors as varied as Insight Ventures Partners and T. Rowe Price, Twitter has been valued at $1 billion, four times its valuation in February.

Zynga: $5 Billion

In April, SecondShares, a group of four that provides analysis "on the companies driving the social media revolution," released a 4,000-word report that concluded Zynga is the clear leader in social gaming, a rapidly growing and highly profitable industry. They valued the company, best known for the addicting crop-growing game on Facebook and other platforms, FarmVille, at $5 billion, giving it room to grow. Only a couple of months prior to the release of SecondShares' report, research firm Next Up valued the company at $3.3 billion.

LinkedIn: $2 Billion

With more than 70 million members, LinkedIn is often referred to as the Facebook for professionals looking to network. After raising more than $76 million in investor funding back in 2008, LinkedIn's executives have said they don't yet need to go through another capital-raising round. Tiger Global Management LLC, a hedge fund with investments in private technology companies, valued the company at $2 billion as recently as late July.

MySpace: $500 Million

Considered by some to be worth almost $65 billion back in 2007, MySpace is now probably worth less than the $580 million that media maven Rupert Murdoch paid for it. Murdoch wanted Yahoo to value the company, now used primarily by amateur bands for self-promotion, at $10 billion after he bought it. The company wouldn't agree to it, no merger happened and MySpace has been rapidly declining ever since.

Groupon: $1.35 Billion

A venture that allows groups of people to commit to coupons so that they can all receive an exceptionally large discount that wouldn't be possible were the offering company not guaranteed a bulk buy, Chicago-based Groupon was valued at $1.35 billion earlier this year when it raised $135 million in a fourth round of financing. But, as the the site is rapidly expanding and has received a lot of favorable press in the months since, it could be valued at even more today.

Foursquare: $95 Million

Foursquare is still new, but it's adding more than 15,000 users every day. When the social location start-up raised $20 million in only its second round of funding back in late June, the company was valued at a healthy $95 million. Both Facebook and Yahoo showed an early interest and were in talks with the company's executives about acquiring it prior to that funding round. The deals didn't work out, but Facebook has since launched a similar service, Places.

Hunch: $52 Million

Started by Caterina Fake, the social media genius behind Flickr, Hunch is probably the least-known of the sites included on this list. Fake, though, has the Midas touch and her latest project, an algorithm-based site that attempts to tell you what you will like, was valued at $52 million after raising $12 million in a financing round this past March. Several big names believe in the future of Hunch: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Gideon Yu, one-time CFO of Facebook, both joined the company's board of directors.

Skype: $2.5 Billion

With incredibly low rates, Skype has become the international online calling company of choice for millions of users. EBay valued the company at $2.75 billion when it sold it off last year, but the estimated value hasn't gone up much since, with most people pricing it between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Without Media

Do you think you could give up all social media for 24 hours? To clarify, this means no Internet, reading, television, cell phone, music, movies and video games for 24 hours.

DON’T PANIC. Stay calm and read on.

For one of my mass media classes at Hofstra University, my teacher, Professor Paul Mihailidis, challenged my class to going without media. Of course, when Mihailidis presented this assignment to the class, everyone had a thousand questions and worries. Everyone was terrified.

My initial reaction to the assignment was anxiety. I had to pick a day to complete the 24 hours, and that alone was hard enough, since I need my computer for work and the television for Entourage on Sunday nights. Just thinking about what 24 hours without social media would be like, I imagined a very lonely day, and knew I would have to prearrange activities for the day so that I would avoid my beloved Blackberry.

Here was the layout for the day: play with puppies at the Northshore Animal League for at least a few hours, have a nice, long dinner with my boyfriend, and attend a college kegger at night. The rest of the 24 hours I allotted to the necessary sleep I needed to catch up on.

Since I opened up my laptop the second I announced I was beginning the assignment, I initially failed. Ugh. I restarted the assignment after my boyfriend pointed out my failed attempted to me, and for the next nine hours I did successfully avoid all media. I have to admit, however, that I did use my boyfriend and my friends to make calls for me, since not using my cell phone really was my biggest concern for the day. I mean, can most people, especially smart phone users, honestly say their phone isn’t some source of comfort and security for them? I know I’m not the only one out their who will admit to this, especially since some of my classmates claimed they failed the assignment in under ten minutes because they just could not live without their phones. What does this say about our culture and our ties to media?

In this day and age, as far as I know, it is almost unheard of for anyone over the age of 16 not to have a phone. I got my first phone at 13 and I have been an addict ever since. My elementary school introduced me to the Internet at the tender age of five, and I rely on it for most of my work and to stay connected to friends and family here and abroad. At this point, I need to say a big thank you to Facebook, Wikiepdia and Sparknotes.

Most of my classmates claimed to have felt psychological effects from the absence of media in their lives, and even my teacher admitted to having failed the assignment miserably. This makes me wonder how those in society who are not connected get by, and having once been to Tanzania, I have a general idea. Tanzanians do not spend quality family time sitting in front of the television, nor do they BBM their friends during school to tell them how boring class is. Media has become a key part in our lives in our society, and maybe we need to think about some of the things we’re missing out on; closer ties with friends and family, deeper conversations, more productivity, and much needed sleep.

But let’s be real, once you go Blackberry, you never go back, and sorry, but Entourage is on. I got to watch!

Jay-Z Eminem Concert Yankee Stadium

Had 2nd row at the Jay-Z, Eminem concert at Yankee stadium the other night. Amazing show, great music! Performances by Eminem and Jay-Z were amazing! Special guests you can see below!

Global Voices, Ethan Zuckerman

Although we know the web connects the whole world, most of us end up connecting mainly with people similar to ourselves. In this video, blogger and geek Ethan Zuckerman shares his desire to link the whole of the wider world, using smart tactics to open up your Twitter world and read news in various languages.

Ethan Zuckerman is an activist and blogger, living in Western Massachusetts and working in Cambridge as a research fellow at the Berkman Center. As co-founder of Global Voices, Zuckerman says, "I'm interested in ways that citizen's media can address longstanding biases in the news media."

Rebecca MacKinnon and Zuckerman founded Global Voices in 2005 when they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "Initially," says Zuckerman, "we'd planned to build an aggregator of blogs from around the developing world, based on my interest in Africa and her focus on China. As more people got involved with the project, it's become something much larger and more exciting: a global community of citizen media authors, an advocacy group that works to preserve freedom of speech online, a media development organization that promotes participatory media in developing nations, a vast and distributed translation project, and a crazy set of friends from every corner of the world. It's been a joy to be involved with and is one of the projects I'm proudest of."

Social Network Structure: Get Them to Absorb Your Message!

A recent study by MIT examined how social network structure can influence how behaviors and information spread through a population. Understanding the way information moves through social media is imperative to using these resources to effectively market a product, brand, or person.  While the study at MIT focused on how health centered behavior travels through a community, the information obtained can be adapted to the consumer driven marketplace and applied effectively through online marketing campaigns.

MIT believes that all social networks can be described by one of two basic categories: clustered contact networks and casual contact networks (Respectively illustrated by the image provided by MIT below). Clustered contact networks spread complex information much more efficiently and to more people than casual contact networks.

“These figures show experimentally manipulated on-line social networks. The first community (left) has a clustered network structure, while the second one is a more "random" casual contact network. Node colors indicate people who adopted a behavior (blue) and those who did not (white), with lighted links showing the active pathways of communication. The clustered networks spread the behavior to more people than the casual contact networks.”  (http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/health-networks.html, accessed 9/8/10, article by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office)

Before this study, it was the widely accepted and presumptive wisdom that casual contact networks, with intense activity and the ability to touch more people, would spread habits and ideas more quickly than the clustered model.  It was thought that clustered contact networks were redundant and therefore less efficient. Damon Centola, an assistant professor of system dynamics and economic sociology at the Sloan School of Management decided the opposite. “People are more likely to acquire new health practices while [participating] in networks with dense clusters of connections- that is, when in close contact with people they already know well.” In order for people to actually change their habits, especially something as ingrained as health practices, they need the redundancy and “extra reinforcement” provided by these communities. Just like Pavlov’s dog, you need to hear something a few times before you actually alter your perceptions or behaviors.

How can we apply this to online marketing through social media? The answer is obvious. It’s not all about how many friends or followers you have- or your ability to transmit information to them constantly. People who are more integrated into your life are going to have a greater impact on the decisions you make as well as who you are. We are psychological beings. Therefore, something equal in complexity to health information should be transmitted in a way that is not entirely based upon mathematical equations or numerical values.

While the study practically “begs” for more research, there are things you can do now. Integrate your brand into your audience’s online activities and become an active presence in a related community for your product to take hold. Become a voice on a blog, post to various forums, and make sure your message has meaning and purpose. But then again, it depends on the complexity of what you are trying to communicate. Be wary of the approach you take- convincing a community to vote for a particular politician is a lot harder than advertising a candy bar.

Tired of Tweeting?

Social media resources are the tools for success in today’s competitive market. In an “Internet focused age," businesses of all sizes are turning to the web to reach their target audience more effectively and affordably. But are these businesses really updating their Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes, Foursquares, and blogs multiple times every day? The answer is no.

Many companies are turning to experts for help maintaining their presence on the world wide web. In order for social media to be effective, it is required that you “engage”  your audience multiple times each day. Inevitably, many businesses have now decided to partner with online marketing strategists to “ramp up”  and confront the “complexities of Internet marketing.” These professionals can help “develop your message, orchestrate a plan, and implement that plan."

Why outsource social media? Experts will attain complete knowledge of your industry and strategically plan to meet your marketing goals. Acting as an extension of your business, these professionals will track and measure the success of these online efforts and make adjustments as necessary. When a media service acts as a business team member, keeping your goals and image in mind, your business will become an effective and prominent presence in an ongoing Internet conversation.

Why can't I do it myself? While many corporations attempt to update social media tools regularly, it is a time consuming and involved process, and many eventually lose interest. Simply automating these systems and have a computer generate the information you put out isn’t really enough. By just spitting out information for your audience to see, you might be taking away from the image you are trying to create or maintain. In addition, automated messages turn a lot of people off and may lead to the dreaded reputation of "spammer."  Social media and internet experts understand your business and also understand that on the other end of every twitter conversation is a human being.

After all, if you don’t know how to effectively communicate in the blogosphere, it doesn’t matter if you have three friends or three million. Besides, does anyone really have the time to make more than one post a day?

Images Courtesy of

http://www.squidoo.com/learn-laugh-with-pocoyo

St. Louis and the Gateway to an upcoming trendy mid-western town

After spending a long weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, I felt like I was taken back to Pleasantville, but with a contemporary twist.  The city of St. Louis was quiet on the weekend, however I got a chance to roam around and check out Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals.  As a photographer, I was mesmerized by the infamous Gateway Arch, the phenomenal stainless steel structure standing 630 feet tall on the edge of the Mississippi River.  Being from New York, I couldn’t help but think that the Arch was the Statue of Liberty of the Midwest.  The City Museum was another outstanding attraction which I was able to see on the way out of town. The museum, founded by artist Bob Cassily, repurposed a number of industrial objects and equipment for artistic design, including old cranes, airplanes, busses and bridges.

St. Louis also had its fair share of trendy bars and attractions including one vodka bar I visited called Sub Zero.  While they are known for the largest selection of Vodka in the country (over 300 choices from around the world), I was instantly drawn to the Sushi Mary, a 4-pepper infused Bloody Mary served with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.  Of course, it was garnished with shrimp and cucumber.  Words cannot begin to describe how delicious this zesty drink was. This drink, alone, was worth the trip! Did I mention they also serve a fresh variety of Sushi until about 1 a.m.??? Amazingly delicious considering St. Louis is landlocked in the Midwest.

There were a number of hot spots to visit for entertainment.  The Four Seasons Hotel sports a spacious rooftop bar overlooking downtown St. Louis and the Arch.  The views were extraordinary.  Like many cities in the Midwest and the South, St. Louis boasts casino life.  The Lumiere Place Casino (connected to the Four Seasons), however, was unlike many of the casinos I’ve visited in Louisiana, Connecticut and Oklahoma.  The Lumiere was less touristy, young and vibrant.  There were great bars and clubs throughout the casino as well.  This casino was definitely on the top of the list, and not just because I had a great run at the blackjack tables!!

Nearly everything in the city is free to do and visit, including the Museums and the Zoo, which in part was nicer then the Bronx Zoo. However, the highlight of this trip (besides visiting family) was my visit to the Anheuser-Busch factory.  I somehow knew this tour would be the highlight of the trip, so I planned it for the very end of my trip.  It was great to “tap” off my long weekend with a free beer tasting of my choice, especially considering it was over 100 degrees out nearly every day I was in town.  However, I have to mention you can smell the aroma of hops in the air up to a mile away from the factory, so that helped stave off some of the heat!!

All in all, this was a great trip and I’d highly recommend you spend some time in St. Louis.  Given my being accustomed to such a New York fast passed way of life, I never expected to find St. Louis so eventful and fun, but it is definitely an outstanding city and without a doubt worth another visit someday soon!

Want to go to St. Louis, make sure to check out some Cheap Flights !!

Facebook Questions

Got questions? Well, Facebook will now have answers.

After testing a new feature that enables users to ask questions to the entire Facebook community, the social networking site has finally launched its final product, Facebook Questions.

With this new feature, the company will provide “ask question” as a new feature in the status box at the top of all users’ home pages as well as in the search box. This way, your questions will appear to all of Facebook’s members, and can be answered by anybody.

Remember the days when askjeeves was a main online source for questions and answers? Well, no longer. With the launch of its new feature, Facebook will now be thrust into the online question and answer market. Of course, at the release of Facebook Questions, the company will face competition from more established question and answer sites, like Yahoo Answers and Answer.com’s Wiki Answers, but I speculate that Facebook’s overall popularity will give Facebook Questions visibility and a good start.

Moreover, the new Facebook application differs from other question and answer sites in that Facebook Questions will allow users to attach photos and polls to their questions. Users will also be able to tag questions with keywords or general topics, like “cooking.” Then, the social network will direct the question to users who have that general topic listed as an interest, giving them the opportunity to provide a quality answer.

Facebook has not announced a release date for the feature, but Facebook’s Blake Ross says that for now Questions will be available only to a “limited number of people” but the company is “aiming to bring this product to all of you as quickly as we can.”

Marketing on Facebook 101

By now, I think everyone has heard of Facebook. If you are not connected on Facebook, then you at least know one of the 400 million people who are, whether it is your friends, your mom, or the guy who works at the deli down the street.

Facebook has changed our lives and has changed the game for business marketing. This social network has created new competition and has pushed businesses to make Facebook a staple in their social media strategies. This is why having a presence on Facebook as a business is extremely important, and any marketer for a business who does not create that online presence will probably not last long in that position.

Creating a presence, however, does not just entail creating an account with Facebook, or any other social network, for that matter. Creating presence means making your Facebook page impactful and relevant. Trust me, spending the time and resources on your Facebook page will make all the difference. Upload pictures and logos and fill in your bio and other key information about your company. Facebook also makes it fairly easy to target your ideal audience. Add friends you know, add their friends, add friends of other businesses. Search through the numerous groups on Facebook to network with your target audience, and even create a group for your own business. Create a Facebook badge to share your information with other websites and link friends to your company’s website, and use Facebook events to save the money on printing flyers or mailers by advertising your event over the Internet. If you are willing to put in the extra effort (which again, could make all the difference), then set up accounts on other social networking sites and share links to these pages on your Facebook.

All in all, a little extra time and effort always pays off. Develop your Facebook page into something eye-catching and attention grabbing. Get more people interested in and aware of your Facebook page and I promise you will see greater results.

Gaining Followers on Twitter

Gaining Twitter FollowersAs the need for social media and social networking becomes more obvious to businesses, more businesses are using social media tools to get their name out to the public. Learning how to use these tools can cause businesses problems, however, because unless you really know the full advantages of the tools and how to achieve those advantages, you will not use social media to it’s fullest extent.

In this post, I will focus on the ways a business can increase its followers on Twitter.
It is one thing for a business to get set up with a Twitter account and to fill out their information and bios, but it is another thing for that business to get people to actually stumble across or search for their social network page.

When I began working as a social media consultant, my experience with helping a business use social media was minimal. I had set up, designed and updated a Twitter account for a San Francisco makeup artist, but did not know how to get people to get interested enough in her to search for her and follow her.

The trick, I learned, is being patient and dedicating more time and work to the social networks then one may think is necessary. As a result of patience and dedication, however, a business can use Twitter not just for social interaction but also as an effective marketing platform.

First, assuming you are not a huge public figure or one of the privileged few like Kim Kardashian or the New York Times, then you will not appear in Twitter’s Suggested Users list. Instead, you will be listed on the accounts and sign up pages of thousands of Twitterers daily.

Once listed on Twitter, you can use the feature Suggested Users by going to Find People > Browse Suggestions. This suggests some top Twitter users who you can choose to follow. Once you find a user to follow, try searching through and following their other followers, because chances are, they share similar interests and may be likely to follow you back if you request to follow them. That’s where patience is truly needed, in the process of following as many people as possible in hopes that they will request to follow you back. And just to make it clear, Suggest Users are suggested as a preselected list, not on a basis of your Twitter friends or tweeting behavior, so if you do make it onto the Suggest Users list, you will end up drawing in thousands of followers.

Second, in order to increase your visibility, you should treat your Twitter profile like and other website. In other words, use word of mouth, advertisements, other websites or blogs to create traffic to your Twitter page.

Here is a list of examples I found of some traffic-driving strategies:

1. Create a tool/application and promote your profile alongside it.
2. Buy a banner ad to target tech-savvy audiences, link it to your profile.
3. Use Twitter as a tool for tech/customer support.
4. Organize a contest through your Twitter profile
5. Include links to your profile in email/forum signatures.
6. Evangelize Twitter on your blog/other blogs and include a link to your profile.
7. Connect your blog and other social media profiles to your Twitter page.
8. Learn to pitch Twitter influencers with articles relevant to their interest
9. Explicitly ask another user to recommend your profile or exchange recommendations.

My third and last strategy I will discuss is hash tags. If you do not know what a hash tag is, maybe you have seen one in someone’s tweet. It looks like this: #inception. If you are sending a tweet that contains keywords that other Twitter users would tweet about or search for, then put a numeric sign in front of that word. When you put a hash tag in your tweet, your tweet will come up along with everyone else tweeting about something containing that same hash tag. Therefore, using hash tags is a good way to create visibility on Twitter.

Mainly, the level of input you put into Twitter account will determine the level of visibility your account receives. As a marketing platform, utilizing Twitter is worth it, so take the time to request friends and make a bigger name for yourself.

Advertising Using Social Media

If you consider this fact, that if Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world, then it is probably understandable how advertising on social media networks and search engines could be an immense help to your company or business.

I am probably not telling you anything new by saying that people are constantly connecting on social networks, but have you thought about how many people would view your ad by posting it on a social network or search engine?

Social Media has been around awhile now, beginning with Instant Messenger, message boards and forums. However, as Web 2.0 evolves, so do the social networks, and so does their impact. In this post, I will focus specifically on five main social networks, Facebook, Yelp, Google, Yahoo! and Foursquare and their beneficial uses for advertising.

Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely pay a lot of attention to the ads on the side of my Facebook page, especially since the ads are targeted specifically toward me, based on the interests I have listed on my own Facebook page. But again, I probably did not have to tell you that, at least not if you are a Facebook user. But the beauty of it for advertisers is also that people of all age ranges use the ultra-popular social network, so it is easy to target specific people. The ads are right there in your face and switch up every time you change pages, which is why Facebook is a great place for advertising.

Now, how many times have you used search engines Google or Yahoo!? Both of these search engines get millions of hits every day, so how many people do you think view the ads posted on these search engines? MILLIONS!

On Google, if you purchase ad space, your ad will reach people actively looking for information about your product or services. Moreover, what is unique about this form of advertising is that you pay for your ad only when people click on your ad. Google gives you the ability to create your ad and choose keywords and phrases related to your business. This is why when you search certain keywords or phrases in your Google search related ads come up along with your search results, which means the ads are targeting people who are already interested in what your business has to offer.

Yahoo! works a little differently. Yahoo! offers directory listings, but unfortunately, when you submit your company name into Yahoo! for consideration, the process can take a long time. Advertising on Yahoo! means you can advertise your business in search results on Yahoo! and other popular sites. You can put your business in front of potential customers when they search for what you sell. Yahoo!, however, does offer another option. You can choose to use Yahoo!’s Express Service for an annual fee of $299, although there is still no guarantee that your site will be listed, only that it will be reviewed in seven days.

Ok, so here is how advertising on Yelp works. First, any business owner or manager can set up a free Yelp account to post offers, photos and message his customers. Listing your business then leads to word of mouth advertising when other Yelp users go on and rate and review the business. Moreover, users can use Yelp to find events, special offers, lists and talk with other users, which also creates free advertising. Second, Yelp generates money by selling targeted advertising programs to local businesses. When a business purchases an ad on Yelp, the business gains exposure, so that anytime someone searches for a business like yours in your area, they will find you. When you purchase an advertising package on Yelp, which typically ranges from $300 to $1,000 per month, you can advertise your business as a sponsored search result and advertise on related business pages. This also includes a dashboard to track your results in the program.

The last social network I want to discuss, and one of my favorites, which I have even blogged about before, is Foursquare. Foursquare is completely free for businesses, which is the greatest part. Foursquare is all about people playing the game of Foursquare on their smart phones to generate business for companies. Every time a player “checks-in” to a business, this posts to their Foursquare network and can even be posted to their Twitter and Facebook accounts for other people to see. Anyone who sees this can learn about a company or business. What gets players to keep playing is the hope of earning points, badges, mayor ship of a place, and maybe even some coupons or free drinks at Starbucks, so people are constantly generating business for companies. How convenient!

Dangers of Foursquare

Over the past month, I have become completely addicted to checking in to my locations, earning badges and conquering the title of mayor in a new location-based social networking game called Foursquare.
For those who do not play Foursquare on their smart phones, here is the premise of the game; You “check in” to a location on a map, earn points for checking in, eventually earn badges for checking in enough times to enough places, and most excitingly, you can even receive the title of mayor of a place for being the person to check in most to that particular location, like a restaurant, your work, or your own home.
Again, I have been happily playing Foursquare now for about a month, and I have to admit, it took me about a month too long to realize the potential dangers of Foursquare.
A few days ago a friend approached me to warn me about the constant Foursquare updates that post on my Facebook wall. He warned me that making my locations public is just an invitation for creepers and bad people. So true. I thought back to all the previous places I checked in and the messages I often attached to each check in, telling anyone who checks my Facebook or Twitter accounts where I am at most times, including where and when I work, where I workout, where I love to eat and where I sleep.

If you think about it, this is the perfect invitation for a robber or stalker. Someone up to no good could easily see what days I work and will be out of the house, or when I am out at the gym or out to dinner. I have never personally done this, but people also tend to post the house addresses of their friends and family, which just sets up disaster for others too.

Foursquare has 150,000 users, and the site leaves the decision up to the users whether or not to post their specific location. A fantastic app, fun for the consumer, and brilliant for the businesses. All I can say is think about what you post before you post it, or follow my rules and check in as your leaving! Use discretion, and for god’s sake, do not leave your home address and a message reading, “Gone on vacation, be back in a week!”

What Your Social Media Activities Say About You

What do your social media activities say about you?

Your blog should clearly represent you and should include your best work. Be careful about what you are saying in your blog posts, and certainly do not post any pictures of yourself that your boss or family would not be pleased to see. If someone were to Google your name, wouldn’t you rather have your blog page come up than drunken photos from your facebook page?

Maintaining a good blog can help you out a lot. Especially when you connect your other profiles and social networks to your blog, like your Twitter account, and when you choose a set avatar with a certain font and style to represent you on different social media networks, you can create a brand for yourself.

Leigh Caraccioli, a “hybrid socialwright-tographer”, gives her way in her article at http://ow.ly/1ZNQt to test if you are one on the millions afflicted with “Avataris”:

-Do you have half of your ex-girlfriend’s arm around your neck in your cropped down image?

-Was your image snapped on a smart phone by your overserved BFF at last week’s big kegger?

-Does you photo scream 1995?

-You use the boilerplate Twitter birdy or Facebook silhouette.

-Is there a greyish, orangeish, yellowish swishy backdrop and a contrived smile on your face?

-Is it just your eyeball?

-Do you looked even a little bit wasted?

-Is your image actually not you but instead an image of your fluffy dog, porche carrera or newborn babe?

-Are you masquerading as a celebrity or Homer Simpson?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to change your picture if you want your avatar to say more, or maybe less about you. You have to remember that anyone can search your name, and whether you are in school or working in the professional world, people will judge you based on your picture.

If you are wondering what type of picture is appropriate for your profile, opt for simple, and do not be afraid to switch your picture up to generate some buzz for your social media experience.

In a nutshell, choose the image you want to create for yourself, market it and be clear.

Social Media: A Growing Truth

Consider these facts. It took radio 38 years and TV 13 years to reach 50 million users. The Internet took four years to reach 50 million users and the ipod three years. ipod application downloads hit 1 billion in nine months. If Facebook were a country it would be the 4th largest in the world. The 4th LARGEST!

Why is social media important to you? Have you ever really thought about how much social media affects and benefits our daily lives? If you are already blogging or reading this blog, then chances are you have a Facebook account, you have an ipod, you may tweet, and perhaps I could find your business if I searched for it on LinkedIn.

Everyone from your average college student, parents and businesses use social media to connect and network. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become especially useful tools in helping individuals and businesses market and reach out to large numbers of Facebook users and Tweeters. Through posting or tweeting updates and adding photos or videos, people and businesses can allow friends and other users to stay informed of their activities. It is crazy how many people are on Facebook and Twitter today. Just this morning I saw a commercial for a mattress company that asked viewers to friend and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. If you can even find a mattress company on these social media sites, then it is likely you can find almost anyone.

Small local businesses love these websites too. Twitterlocal, for example, helps users target certain demographics by searching a certain city for tweeters in that city. Have you played foursquare yet? Not the schoolyard game, but the genius social networking site. Foursquare was created only about nine months ago and already has nearly 1.3 million users. This website has helped companies create brand awareness by allowing users to “check-in” at different locations, and by earning points and “badges” for the number of times you check-in somewhere, users stay motivated to check out new venues. If a user checks in to a location more than anyone else, he can even become the mayor of that place. With 65 million registered users, LinkedIn is a fantastic professional networking site for businesses to reach out to people they know and trust, keep lists of contacts, or “connections,” research companies and upload resumes.

Every day new people join social networks. You do not need to be in PR or marketing to join and use social networks to benefit your business, in fact, every department of a business should be learning to use social networks. If you are not currently “linked in” or tweeting or connected through Facebook, it is not too late, and it may be the key you need to reach out to communicate and expand your business.

POV’s Hangover Washington Bellini Brunch – W Hotel

After a late night out in DC, drag yourself in on Sunday to the POV’s Hangover Washington Bellini Brunch at the POV restaurant’s rooftop terrace at the W Hotel. Waking up to a gourmet buffet brunch and phenomenal views of some of DC’s landmarks, including the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Capital Building are the perfect way to kick off your Sunday afternoon. The view truly blew my mind. You are so close to the White House you can even spot the security positioned on top of the building’s roof. When I walked in I was instantly greeted by wonderful Renee Egan, who walked me around the restaurant and immediately put a drink in my hand. Take your pick: sit on zebra-print stools along the bar for a better view of the fine food creations, or lounge outside on the black-and-white balcony couches spaced around St. Laurent stone tables, surrounded by impressive black walls and ceiling-high windows. With this $39 prefix menu, you can tap your feet to the jazz beats of the DJ as you sip unlimited amounts of the restaurant’s signature drinks- the Bloody Mary, adorned with a crab claw, or the delightful peach Bellini – and indulge yourself in an assortment of as many of their mouth-watering macaroons as you would like. Although my stay at the brunch had to be cut short and I did not have the chance to eat anything else but the delicious macaroons, the restaurant’s spread of shell fish, mixed fruit, smoked salmon, sushi and mini muffins, among other eye-pleasing foods, looked good enough to make the POV’s Hangover Washington Bellini Brunch among one of the top things to revisit when I return to DC.

Mashable: Facebook Announces New Privacy Features

Following weeks of debate over Facebook and privacy, the company is announcing new features to address the criticism that has emerged since the launch of the Open Graph and Instant Personalization.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who penned an op-ed in The Washington Post on Sunday promising new privacy options — is doing the presenting at a live event at the company’s headquarters.

After opening his presentation with a brief history of how Facebook and its privacy features have evolved, Zuckerberg described a number of upcoming changes to the social network.

Facebook isn’t going to remove the dozens of privacy controls that let you customize settings for very specific elements of your profile. However, the company is rolling out:

  • One simple control for changing content viewing permissions to friends-only, friends-of-friends, or everyone — it applies to everything you’ve published on Facebook in the past.
  • This setting will also apply to everything you publish in the future.
  • A simple way for determining how people can find you on Facebook, and what users that aren’t your friend can see.
  • A simple way for turning off the Facebook Platform, specifically, being able to opt-out of Facebook’s new instant personalization features and providing third-party sites with information.
  • A way to opt-out of sharing your friends list and the Pages that you like.

The theme here is clearly “simple” — an easier way to stop sharing information with people, websites and applications that you don’t want to have access. That said, it looks like instant personalization instant personalization will remain on by default.

The new privacy controls will go live in the next few weeks, and Facebook will be inserting a message on user homepages alerting them to the new options. Stay tuned to Mashable for more news and analysis on Facebook’s latest privacy moves.

Twitter

There’s been a great deal of articles on how Twitter can be used for marketing purposes and I think most of them can be condensed to the simple aim of tracking and directing attention. Twitter allows you to monitor how influencers think or feel, you can also get into their attention zone via active networking.

For businesses, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential customers with your product or brand. It allows deep infiltration into the lifestyles of interested participants, which helps to build brand persistence/loyalty.

In its most obvious form, Twitter can be seen as a traffic generation tool. The placement of links within profiles and conversations can direct visitors to a specific website and is especially powerful if you pitch to early adopters and influencers.

As a lead acquisition tool, it doesn’t always reach the audience you want. Most Twitter users are somewhat web savvy and it is extremely difficult to target a specific subset of the general demographic and determine their level of potential interest.

As there isn’t an option to advertise within Twitter (unlike Facebook), Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement, on the part of the marketer or business owner. In a way, this is a good thing.