Thursday, November 29, 2007

Facebook Group for PR Job Hunters

Since some of you will be graduating in two weeks, I thought you might be interested in this Facebook group for PR job hunters. It would be a good place to show off your new social media resume.

NATO takes the war against the Taliban to YouTube

I caught a story on the news yesterday about NATO realizing that it needed to take the war against the Taliban to YouTube. In a speech delivered last month, NATO's Secretary General explained the problem: "When there is an incident in Afghanistan, the Taliban are quick to say there have been high numbers of civilian casualties. The wires pick it up, then the TV stations, then the Web. Our response comes days later – if we are lucky. By that time, we have totally lost the media battle." According to a NATO spokesperson the Taliban is "doing better than we are on key battleground -- and that's video".

In an effort to counter Taliban propaganda, NATO has declassified some videos showing Taliban fighters disguising as women and using little children as human shields. The Record, a daily local Ontario newspaper, ran an interesting story describing how NATO came to change its position on releasing these videos.

In response (?) to NATO's move, al Qaeda's TV production unit today released a new Bin Laden tape accusing NATO of having disrepsected the rules of war and having attacked and killed women and children on purpose.

That just goes to show that fighting a war is about much more than just the physical combat on the ground. The real war is fought in the court of public opinion with YouTube videos as the new weapon of choice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Facebook Beacon & Facebook Social Ads

When we talked about Facebook Beacon and Facebook Social Ads in class today, we used those two terms interchangeably. They're not quite the same though. Let me try to explain the difference (as I understand it):

Facebook Beacon:
- Beacon works by allowing one of Facebook's partner sites to put a cookie on your browser when you interact with their site (i.e. when you buy something on Overstock, rent a movie, etc.)
- The cookie then sends the information about your online activity (i.e. what you bought, what movie you rented) to Facebook
- Facebook then publishes that information to your friends' news feeds.

The result looks something like this (picture from Charlene Li's blog):

Facebook Social Ads:
- Company writes the ad copy and decides who they want to see the ad
- Facebook displays the ad "in the left hand Ad Space — visible to users as they browse Facebook to connect with their friends — as well as in the context of News Feed — attached to relevant social stories."
- So social ads can work independently of Beacon, but they don't have to. Facebook Beacon allows Facebook to feed the social ad to users whose friends have interacted with the company's Facebook Page or their website

Here's an example of a Facebook Social Ad (note that it displays the user's profile picture):

According to Facebook's website, "Facebook Social Ads allow your businesses to become part of people's daily conversation." Judging by the growing popularity of's Stop Invading My Privacy group, that conversation seems to be turning against them though. Even the mainstream media is starting to weigh in on this issue. Here's a CNN story on Facebook Beacon that should qualify as negative media coverage:

I've also just stumbled across this blog post which outlines a lot of the privacy concerns we discussed.

Update: According to the New York Times, Facebook has bowed to the pressure and announced changes to its Beacon program which are aimed at protecting its users' privacy. Here's the official press release. And lastly, an interesting story from CNN on behavioral targeting in online advertising.

Yet another update (Dec. 4):
Brian Solis just published a good post which analyzes Facebook's reaction from a crisis communication perspective and criticizes Zuckerberg's choice of a press release as a way to communicate changes to the Beacon program to a community of networked users. So if the press release was a bad idea, what should Zuckerberg have done? Todd Defren has a suggestion or two for him.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Analysis of Viral Video Trends

Considering our latest discussions of viral video, you might be interested in the following article series on YouTube trends from the No Man's Blog.

This series of 5 reports examines the most viewed videos (all time, monthly, & weekly) on YouTube and provides some interesting insights into what goes viral.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cluetrain Manifesto Reading - The 95 Theses

We'll be examining the Cluetrain Manifesto next class. Please read the 95 theses of this manifesto so that we'll be able to have a class discussion on it.

As you read them, think about how these theses apply to the practice of PR and how we could change current PR practices to respond to some of the criticisms contained in the Cluetrain theses.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Google's inner workings explained

Since search engine rankings are equivalent to influence in this Web 2.0 world, it seems like a good idea to take a closer look at the inner workings of the mother of all search engines - Google. More than half of all online searches are currently run by Google!

This page does a great job visualizing what takes place behind the scenes when an Internet user runs a search on Google. This site doesn't discuss Google's search algorithm, but rather focuses on the logistics of running the search.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CNN announces Second Life Reporting Endeavor

CNN today announced that it is launching an I-Report hub in Second Life to report on events and stories happening in Second Life.

This is how it works: SL residents submit reports and CNN I-Report producers decide on what stories to run, and then publish them in SL. Here's a video explaining it all.

So in essence, a virtual news station to cover virtual news.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Greenpeace's social media campaign for a greener iPhone generates publicity

We've already discussed how Greenpeace used social media technologies to pressure Apple into producing more environmental computers. We also briefly examined their latest attack on the iPhone and the lawsuit that was filed against Apple last month. (Below is the Greenpeace iPhone video that sums up their charges against the iPhone:)

Looks like Greenpeace was rather successful in generating publicity for their latest campaign, as CNN ran a major story on it today - the same day that Apple finally launched the iPhone in Britain and Germany.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Honor Hunger Week by Entering the UN World Food Programme Viral Video Contest

As St. Edward's University is getting ready to honor national Hunger Week, you can participate in your own way by practicing your newly acquired viral video production skills and producing a 30 or 60 second video that raises awareness about world hunger.

The United Nations World Food Programme is calling on amateur video producers to put their creativity to good use in an effort to influence public opinion about world hunger. The detailed call for entries can be found on the Hunger Bytes YouTube page. The submission deadline is midnight August 1, 2008 - so there is plenty of time to get your entries in and make your contribution to the fight against hunger.

Here's another fun (and educational) way to honor the spirit of Hunger Week and improve your vocab at the same time. The FreeRice website donates 10 grams of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for each word you get right on their vocabulary test. According to their site, "When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people." A creative idea IMHO!

Social Advertising on Facebook

On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled its somewhat controversial plans to launch an advertising system based on social networking (see the press release announcing Facebook Ads, and a CNN story explaining how the system will work).

The announcement has let to concerns about privacy issues (see the Techcrunch story). It will be interesting to see how Facebook will go about convincing its users to embrace this new advertising format, especially considering the anti-social advertising groups that have already started to pop up on its site.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Social Media Resume for Students entering the PR or Advertising Industry

In the newest Forward podcast, Bryan Person discusses the idea of a social media resume for PR and advertising students (11:36 minutes into the podcast). Bryan also elaborates on the need for a social media resume on his own blog and provides a couple of examples.

These examples are very close to what I would like you to do for your upcoming SMNR assignment in which you are supposed to "announce” your qualifications, career goals and job expectations in form of a SMNR. The point of this assignment is to demonstrate your social media skills to prospective employers in a creative manner and to tie together all the different technologies we have explored in this class (such as blogs, podcasts, web video, social bookmarks, etc.). As you explore the examples posted by Bryan, pretend that you are a potential employer looking at these resumes. Which type of resume would make a stronger case for a candidate's social media skills? A traditional resume, describing the skills, or a multimedia resume displaying them? Loaded question, I know.

Wikipedia Vision: See who is editing Wikipedia in what parts of the world

This neat web application, named Wikipedia Vision, displays anonymous edits to the English Wikipedia as they are made. The data map displays "the title of the article, the summary of the edit (if the person who made it gave any summary), link to the changes that were made to the article, geographical location of the wikipedia user and the time the edit happened".

It works by matching Wikipedia users' IP addresses to their corresponding geographical locations and mapping them on Google Maps.

Resources for capturing web video

Here are some web applications & add-ons that will allow you to capture web video:

For free video stock footage, try this site.

For free stock photos, try the Stock.Xchng.

And finally, for help with iMovie, check out Apple's iMovie tutorials.