Friday Frivolity – Social Networking Wars

I’m on a huge Social Network kick these days. So you reap the benefits of that.

On the business side, there are plenty of discussions going on about them. An interesting recent eMarketer study claims Social Networks Are Not Yet Universal, with the totally great subtitle “Not everyone is pokable.”

Remembering this is key for a marketer. Also, remembering which ones are suitable for which audiences is also key. Here’s a no brainer from the PMA Summit: MySpace Is Out; Facebook Is In
by Karl Greenberg, which makes me wonder why we needed a summit to answer that one.

And now, on to the frivolity. Here’s an oldie but a goodie – the Social Network Wars. Hilarious.

Reforestation, Great Social Media Work, Hear Me Roar

Update: An update on the Converseon blog site has some interesting lessons learned about this project. As we pave the way in the new media landscape, we should pay very close attention to the successes and mistakes of others. One thing they don’t mention is that there were two Members Project reforestation initiatives and this one didn’t make the cut. The other one did – with surprising results after little marketing. People need very specific directions and no matter how much planning you do, one single distraction (such as registering) will derail the train.

Paull Young‘s agency, Converseon in NY is doing some great social media work. Here’s something that’s a great cause that really shows their mad skilz. Yes, I just wrote mad skilz. His project is one of the 50 remaining American Express Members Project (you’ve seen the tv commercials) projects. If you hold an American Express card, you have to vote by July 15th in order for this project to go on to the next round. It’s (as far as I know) the only Second Life project in the remaining 50. It’s a virtual reforestation project that also plants real trees in rain forest areas. If this wins, 1 million trees could be planted. Pretty cool. Vote here.

As an added bonus, you get to hear the melodious crackling tones of my voice through a junky mic on the embedded video (rss readers, click Second Chance Trees). I was honored to do it, I just wish Paull had given me a bit more warning so I could have had better equipment more readily available.

Anyway, read Paull’s post about the project that has some excellent lessons on dealing in the social media space. Not only is the project cool, Paull’s really educating us about the process. Kudos. Well, good luck, remember, voting ends this Sunday, July 15th!

Case Western Reserve University enters SL

severance.jpgWell, wasn’t this a surprise to me? I read today – a bit late, I admit – in Crain’s Cleveland Business’ Reporter’s Notebook this week (from Shannon Mortland, second story) that Case has set up a virtual campus in Second Life. I’ve been spending a bit of time in Second Life the past few weeks to figure out what all the hub-bub is. My theory is, you can’t complain about it without trying it, and we should all keep an eye on the changing landscape.

Well, the landscape of Case has changed, it’s been digitized. It’s featured on it’s own sprawling, in-construction SL campus. From the Case website:

Logging in to our virtual reality campus is the next best thing to seeing Case in person. Get a feel for the 550 park-like acres that comprise the Case campus, and explore local landmarks, University Circle and the greater Cleveland area as well.

I have to admit, they sold it better on the Mortland’s article:

“Students have already had most of their general questions answered through campus visits,” said Mir Bear-Johnson, a Case student who has created a virtual persona on Second Life, where he acts as a campus ambassador. “Now they want the nitty-gritty information about double-majoring in subjects like music and mathematics and how it’s done, and what campus food is really like.”

Most web-based platforms that send you to Second Life give you a SLurl (Second Life URL, like Crayon’s at http://slurl.com/secondlife/crayon/), but Case is applying some old-school (no pun intended) tactics that irk me a bit. Case’s site about SL is odd. There’s no SLurl. Case’s site in-world is also odd, you can’t find it. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, because as a web reader I was looking for the SLurl.

So what you have to do is go to the Case website, find the Second Life page, open a PDF with instructions [tracking downloads, no doubt] that tell you that you have to search for the group OneCleveland in SL. You then have to add yourself to that group in order to be able teleport to the campus. So I did all that because I was curious – and damn tenacious. This all comes after you download the SL software. Sound fun? No.

The best part? There was no one there and there wasn’t anything to do. It’s still under construction, but two of the five islands have structures and offices. I’m sure it looks just like the campus, look at the picture above, that’s me standing on Severance Hall. But if you’re going to make me jump through so many hoops, especially ones that I know you are tracking, then at least signal someone to come talk to me. Pay a student to sit around in SL and wait for someone to join the group. Then bust your butt to Case, find them, and ask them if they need anything. There was no one there, and I’m not surprised. Sure, it’s new, but damn hard to get to, also. That’s one barrier they need to fix. Pronto. Oh, and add a freakin’ SLurl to the Case page. Have the instructions available for newbies, but let the prospects in without the hassle. The worst part is that now I’ll never know what the campus food is like…

Second Life: It doesn’t matter if you like it

I’ve been trying to avoid Second Life as much as possible, both in writing about it and getting involved in it. Mostly because of the contention between some of the folks in the PR blogosphere. I have my own thoughts on Second Life and they’re not much to write home about. I haven’t tried it, I’m not planning to for a while, and I’m not sure what the draw is. However, one thing I am doing is paying attention to it. And I’m doubly glad there are communicators out there who are paying attention to it and reporting it so I don’t have to. The fellas at For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report are doing just that.

And they’re getting bashed for it by some folks who I believe have little right to criticize. Students and young PR professionals, still wet behind the ears, are giving these two highly seasoned verterans a hard time? Ridiculous. I see where they’re coming from, but to voice one’s opinion with such arrogance to people who were practicing communication professionals before some of them were born is distasteful. What really kicks me in the pants is FIR is Shel and Neville‘s podcast, they could talk exclusively about edible underwear if they wanted to, it’s their show. Don’t like it, don’t listen. They welcome comments, so make your point and leave it. Don’t harangue them, am I right here?

But like I said, I’m not a huge fan of Second Life, because I personally think it’s pretty stupid. That really doesn’t matter, does it? I think eating fruits and vegetables is stupid, too, but the truth is you can’t avoid it. If you don’t like SL and think it’s a waste of time, that’s okay, so do I. But to blindly ignore or refuse to talk about anything that affects the communication field – that’s a mistake.

I think Second Life is an odd time drain, but there are many, many people who don’t. And that’s what matters. How many people thought the owning a car was stupid? How many people thought reading was stupid? How many people thought the Internet was stupid? FIR Show 170, Shel Holtz says it very well.

For more information, read about Kami’s PR meetup in SL and Lee Hopkins’ rather humorous take on it. Also, Shel points to Text 100’s YouTube Video explaining the connection between SL and PR. The video is a must watch for beginners. It doesn’t make me want to sign up, yet, but at least I have a few answers if a client asks me about it…