Tag Archive | facebook

Sigmund Freud and Social Media

A couple of years ago, a friend, obsessed with conspiracy theories, sent me a video (here is episode 6 of a 1-hour documentary) about Sigmund Freud, his daughter Anna and his nephew Edward Bernays and the impact of their theories on modern marketing and public relations. My friend’s takeway from the video was that we are being constantly psychologically manipulated and deceived by those in power – politicians, corporations, media, aliens, etc. I do not subscribe to global or otherwise large-scale conspiracy theories (color me naïve), but I enjoyed the video because I take interest in Freud and Jung, and the way their theories have been applied in social studies and comparative mythologies and how they have impacted the works of great minds such as James Frazer and Joseph Campbell.

The premise of the documentary is that modern marketing and public relations pioneered by Edward Bernays reduced individuals to passive, brainless consumers with little ability to pass judgments or make decisions on their own. As social networking rapidly penetrates society and I keep pondering over how it will eventually impact individuals, businesses and the various aspects of social life, I remembered this video and watched it again.

I personally believe that social interactions are inherently “manipulative” in nature – aimed at influencing other people’s perception of ourselves, of others, of concepts and various natural and social phenomena. It is our personal responsibility, not that of others, to decide to what extent we will allow ourselves to be influenced. With the exception of blatant, inaccurate propaganda (e.g. smoking is good for your health) or brutal enforcement of ideas (e.g. the crusades, the inquisition, etc.), the rest, in my opinion, is perfectly normal, natural human behavior. In fact, people have engaged in “marketing” activities, “public relations” and various forms of propaganda since the early days of humanity, only the means have changed over the years. Myths, rituals and religions were created for the purposes of disseminating collective wisdom and promoting values, as well as for entertaining people. In today’s society, those have been replaced by books and magazines (printed media), television, and most recently – the Internet.

Have common individuals become less or more powerful participants in the process of exchanging ideas and impacting others in the way they think and behave? I believe that, in democratic societies at least, individuals are becoming increasingly better informed and empowered through improving literacy levels and growing availability of affordable means of communications. It is the Internet, however, that has truly democratized access to information and entertainment. Now social networking is making us even more powerful participants in creating social value by sharing ideas with a large number of people dispersed over vast geographic areas. In the distant past, people gathered around the shaman to hear prophecies, find cures for various illnesses or just for a relaxing time with songs and dances. Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube …

This new social experience comes with certain implications that we might wish to consider prior to engaging in further activities.

Opportunities to influence our environment: It is obvious that the Internet and social media are creating opportunities for the common man to more freely (and arbitrarily, more effectively) voice his ideas and concerns. Even if one person alone cannot have a significant impact on a stock price, a movie rating or a company reputation, the collective voice of the masses can make a big difference. This has tremendous implications for how social media is and can be used for marketing and customer service. “Word of mouth” will acquire a completely new meaning in the era of social networking!

Creation of new myths, believes and rituals: We should realize the fact that we, as social media participants, will become the creators of new urban legends (myths) and social practices (rituals). We may not even realize that occasionally we will fall prey to self-fulfilling prophecies as we systematically and collectively enforce a belief. To bring this closer to home, let’s take the concept of Unified Communications (UC) as an example. While UC certainly has the promise of delivering cost efficiency and productivity benefits to business users, vendors, analysts and media are effectively contributing to its becoming a more immediate and tangible reality by keeping its definition fluid and continuously ascertaining it as a “de facto” trend, rather than just a vision or a theoretical construct.

Emergence of new fears and conspiracy theories: It will not be long until social networking creates a fertile ground for new fears and conspiracy theories to emerge. Some people are already worried about too much exposure, identity theft, etc. These fears will grow into more serious concerns over the possibility of increasing negative influences on children and young adults that will be ever harder to monitor and control. Today, parents typically make sure they know their children’s friends and their friends’ families, but how will they know who’s behind a social networking pseudonym? The fear of companies, sects, the government, aliens, etc. now being able to reach anyone in all kinds of new powerful ways is likely to cause people to alter their behavior, look for counter-measures and seek for certain policies to become implemented in order to ensure at least minimal identity and security protection. Therefore, businesses using social media for marketing purposes will need to be very careful in what information they disseminate and in what form to avoid possible backlash.

The need for greater responsibility: The sheer power of the Internet and social networking requires a new sense of responsibility from all contributors. While I stated earlier that it is everyone’s responsibility to control the extent to which they are impacted by new media, we should not forget that we are parents, employees and consumers. As such, we have a responsibility to protect our children, companies and other consumers like us from the spread of erroneous information and unhealthy believes.

In debates over the role of art, I have always claimed that it does not need to be educational or elevating – after all, it is just an expression of the artist’s vision. I suppose that same theory applies to social media, but even if we don’t want to control the content (that would be somewhat undemocratic), we still need some basic rules of engagement to be in place or else – this may be the beginning of chaos. As Jean-Jacque Rousseau discovered many years ago, man is inherently greedy, jealous, violent, etc. – i.e. evil in all kinds of ways, but he finds it necessary to sign a “social contract” (i.e. behave in certain socially appropriate ways) in order to be able to peacefully co-habit the Earth with his brethren and benefit from some of the advantages of social (vs primitive, isolated) life. I will end this post with one of his quotes to give us all some further food for thought.

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

Some Thoughts on Effective Social Networking

I feel that, as a blogger and an active member of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t end 2009 without providing some perspective on social networking. Throughout the past year, social networking continued to gain popularity and became one of the hottest topics both at private parties and at communications industry events and forums. Along with mobile communications, video and maybe a couple other technologies, it is likely to become one of the most powerful trends straddling the consumer and business worlds – creating opportunities as well as challenges.

A lot has been said about social networking, so I will focus on just three issues: growing variety of social networking site members; increasing networking overload, and integration of communications with social networking. First of all, I think we need to remember that, as the name suggests, this is a “social” phenomenon. Therefore, we should expect to see the same kind of variety in social networking as we see in society in general, and should not expect members of a particular social network to act the same way or have the same interests and preferences. As social networking becomes increasingly popular and further penetrates the masses, member variety is also likely to increase. This trend will have implications for marketers, recruiters and everyone looking to leverage social networks for business purposes.

On one hand, the growing pool of participants will create a larger audience for disseminating various types of company or product information, recruiting, or soliciting feedback on specific topics or issues. On the other hand, unless members are properly segmented into sub-groups based on interests or other profile characteristics, there will be quite a bit of “noise” and “clutter” on these sites and limited opportunities for targeted messages.
In my opinion, Twitter will be much more appealing if one could more effectively segment its following or the people he/she follows and have the possibility to view and broadcast messages in a more targeted way. Similarly, although Facebook allows members to become “fans” of this or “members” of that, this feature has a limited impact on how status updates or postings are disseminated and viewed by others. I personally like LinkedIn and the possibility to join various interest groups with their own discussion boards, news and recruiting sections, etc.

Here follow a couple of charts from a survey we recently conducted at Frost & Sullivan that illustrate how the demographic profile of our respondents correlates with their use of different social networking sites. What seems obvious is that Facebook has one of the most varied user demographics and, I believe, this fact is strongly correlated with the size of its membership (as well as its structure and nature of its applications).

Social networking survey respondents by location
Social networking survey respondents by location

Social networking survey respondents by ethnicity
Social networking survey respondents by ethnicity

Social networking survey respondents by income
Social networking survey respondents by income

I believe that, eventually, some consolidation will be needed in the social networking space, especially as social networking sites’ membership grows. I am already experiencing some networking overload with friends and business contacts trying to connect with me on more than 3 sites. While I see different value in Facebook (mostly for connecting with friends), LinkedIn (mostly used for business purposes), and Twitter (a completely different value proposition, altogether), I do not seem to be able to also maintain a presence on Hi5 and have not even explored other sites like MySpace or Bebo, for example.

Another issue I wish to touch upon is the idea of integrating communications and presence with social networking sites. It seems like a no-brainer that people who wish to socialize with others, would also wish to communicate with them more directly and/or using different media (in addition to the direct messaging service available on most sites). It is interesting to see the results of our survey in the charts below.

Integration of communications with social networking
Integration of communications with social networking

These results seem to prove that some people would, indeed, greatly appreciate the opportunity to communicate with their social networking contacts via chat, voice, video or conferencing, but the fact that some are not interested in having any new communication capabilities available to them is significant as well. Over a quarter of Facebook members, for example, are not interested in conferencing, telephony or video, which, in my opinion, is again due to the greater variety of members, some of which obviously prefer to share opinions, pictures, etc., without engaging in direct interactions. Similarly, the majority of survey respondents seem to value instant messaging and chat the most. My interpretation is that it is the least invasive, maybe also the fastest and most convenient of the suggested communication tools. Surprisingly, voice and video appear to have a very similar appeal to our respondents, which may be due to the growing popularity of video and the fact that those willing to engage in a live conversation are equally willing to see the other party.

I believe that, in 2010, we will witness some very interesting developments in social networking. One of the most significant ones will be the increasing adoption of social networking tools in the enterprise space. Business social networking tools will need to have some different capabilities in order to be effective. Obviously, security will be key. Further membership segmentation and ability to target messages and postings to specific user groups will be important as well. Finally, integration of advanced communications and collaboration capabilities will eventually turn business social networking platforms into major productivity enhancement tools.

While I do expect to see a movement from outside in – either consumer social networking platforms becoming transformed and adopted in the business space or business platforms being created in a way imitating consumer ones, I also expect to see a lot of business applications integrating with consumer social networking sites from inside out – through mashups of enterprise UC interfaces with social networking ones, for example, for more effective communications and collaboration with individuals outside the organization.

Vancouver Facebook Developer Garage

Facebook, welcome to Vancouver! Vancouver Film School (VFS) has some great facilities, as you can all see, wish I could have been there. Sadly I missed out, my "2 yr old" is a bit sickly but I managed to catch it via miss604.com's blog – Rebecca Bolwitt does a great job of covering local happenings. if you are in the local tech community and have not added this RSS feed to your reader you are missing out.

If anything else, Facebook is driving development, more so I think than others that have walked this path before, Google comes to mind. This is feeling somewhat reminiscent of the pre-bubble and dot com bust nearly 10 years ago. The excitement has been revived, I just hope there is money at the end of that rainbow. If anything else Facebook applications can be a great marketing platform for the real money apps.

Lypp Launches VoIP API and Wholesale Termination Service

In addition to the Lypp service, Lypp is offering an API that allows developers the ability to create his/her own telephony feature in an application… 

VANCOUVER, October 2, 2007 – Lypp (http://lypp.com) announced today the availability of its first API (Application Programming Interface) and wholesale VoIP termination service, decreasing time to market for developers when integrating Internet Telephony into any application.

"We have built a REST-based VoIP API that will fast track VoIP Integration for any developer that understands XML," said Lypp CEO Erik Lagerway. "Until now the only way developers could integrate scalable and reliable telephony was through acquisition of expensive equipment and infrastructure. Lypp has removed those barriers by building a simple API and allowing our customers to leverage our access to the North American PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) including but not limited to TELUS, Rogers, Bell, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, SBC and BellSouth, through the most trusted interconnect providers in the business including Level 3, Global Crossing and XO. We are working with the best partners to deliver the best call experience in North America and we're excited that our partners can leverage our API to deliver this experience to their customers."

The Lypp API enables rapid VoIP feature implementation, including: Click-to-Call and Click-to-Conference, virtual phone booth calling features, and integration of basic and advanced telephony such as embedded email and profile call links for FaceBook, MySpace and other web-based applications and services.

The Lypp API is available online now at http://lypp.com/api. To obtain a username and password for the API developers will need to put in a request by email to api@lypp.com.

About Lypp

Lypp is disrupting the telecommunications industry by using the data
connections and applications that already exist on cell phones and mobile
devices to give users features and pricing that the wireless carriers don't,
won't or can't offer. Lypp also provides wholesale services leveraging its
REST-based API to enable integration of VoIP features with other web-based
applications and services.

The Lypp service is operated and owned by Gaboogie Canada Inc.

For further information: Daniel Gibbons, (778) 998-9543, press@lypp.com

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