New Ad Format: Facebook’s Attempt to Appeal to Marketers

The popular social networking site Facebook Inc. is trying out new tactics to churn out steady revenue from its advertisers.  New ads called “engagement ads” appear on the main screen when a person first logs into Facebook. Then the user is prompted to do something with the ad i.e. commenting on a movie trailer or RSVP for the finale of a TV show, etc. If the person goes through with the action, Facebook then sends a notice about what the person has done with the ad to their friends.

Facebook has been testing this new ad format since August and just this month has started making it available to advertisers. According to Facebook, 70 of the U.S.’s 100 largest advertisers have advertised on its site since 2007. Despite Facbook’s attempted efforts, competitor MySpace.com is still the market leader with 15.9% of display-ad spending.

 

It has been said that buying ads on Facebook and MySpace usually cost less than buying ads on sites such as Yahoo or AOL.  Facebook has hired top ad sales executives from top companies and has also sent teams into agencies to pitch products and generate awareness about its research tools.

The only problem Facebook may have is people getting frustrated with a ton of new ads popping up. Something that used to make Facebook unique from MySpace was that it was not flooded with a bunch of different ads.  Within the next few months, we will see how users react to the new and more prevalent ad usage on Facebook. Since most of Facebook’s targeted users are college students and young adults it could be seen as a downside; however, for marketers it could be seen as a great aspect.

Twitter Keeps it Short and Tweet

There are literally hundreds of social media networking tools available on the web, many of which are free and fairly simple to figure out. While it is debatable which is the ‘best’ utility (as this is fairly opinion based), there is no doubt in my mind that Twitter offers something distinctive in the realm of digital technologies. Twitter can be used as a social networking tool through short, 140 ‘micro-blogs’ or ‘tweets’ as they’re called, that serve as status updates for an individual, organization or company. You can choose whose updates you receive and similarly people can add you and follow your updates. Here is one of the coolest features of the site: the ability to receive updates from your contacts via the Twitter webpage, through Facebook, as an RSS feed, SMS text message or via Instant Messages. Additionally, you can have your Twitter account automatically publish a link to your latest blog posts. You also can control your privacy settings and restrict who receives your tweets.

Twitter allows you to create your own personal profile complete with biography and links to any personal webpages that you may have. You can search all other Twitter profiles to find people in close proximity to you and with similar backgrounds and interests. Twitter is straight to the point; it allows for you to share instant information with a network of contacts in a concise manner.

This image is known as the Fail Whale, an iconic aspect of Twitter.

Many businesses and business-minded individuals alike have put this Web 2.0 tool to good use. Companies such as Whole Foods, CNN and JetBlue all have accounts that provide consumers with relevant-up-to-date information in their respective industry. You can also follow both Democratic and Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates on Twitter- really useful to provide up to date information about their campaigns. 

Twitter is continuing to grow in size and popularity as many businesses are realizing that this tool serves to fill a unique digital niche. Not only can tweets provide up-to-the-second information about products and services offered by your business, but it serves as an interactive forum where a business-consumer dialogue can occur, allowing for maximum success on behalf of all parties. Of course, this interaction is even more beneficial for a business that operates in a primarily digital field (take Ingenex, for example).

Twitter is showing itself to quickly be the way of the future. Because accounts can be created for both individuals and large corporations, the type of information transmitted in a tweet can cover a wide range of meanings and purposes. Corporations can notify followers of potential sales, while individuals can let their contacts know that they’ve just recently posted a blog entry worth checking out. Tweets are short but extremely multi-faceted in terms of use and the type of audience they can potentially reach. I definitely recommend utilizing this social networking tool for both your personal and business needs.

Out of the Loopt

Loopt is a social networking tool that enables users to connect, share, and explore using their mobile phones. On the Eco-Friendly Internship blog I previously discussed mobile marketing – Loopt offers subscribers the chance to become mobile marketers, of themselves and of places and events they recommend. An interesting feature of Loopt is that it can alert you when a friend is nearby, effectively turning your phone into a social compass. You can also use Loopt to give a heads’ up about a great place or event in your area, and in turn use your friends’ recommendations to find new activities you might enjoy. To learn more, you can take a tour.

To use Loopt, you need to first make sure that its technology will work with your phone. You also might want to check out their pricing policies, as well as your mobile providers’ messaging rates (Loopt currently requires the use of SMS text messages). Once you have established that Loopt is compatible and affordable for you, you can register your phone, verify your phone number, and download Loopt to your mobile.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish exploring all the Loopt has to offer – upon receiving the ten digit code necessary to verify my phone number I entered it into the appropriate field but my code was rejected by the site. I re-sent the code to my mobile in the hopes that I would receive a new code, or that the site would recognize the old code if I sent it again, but still no luck. There is a forum to post questions, problems, and discussions, but in order to use it you must create yet another user account.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Loopt; until then, my social compass is out of commission.

The Real (Digital) World

As a current student at Michigan State University, one subject of intense interest to myself and my fellow students is graduation, and how to prepare for it. Taking those first steps from university to the real world can be intimidating, and many current students are unsure of how to make a smooth transition from co-ed to corporate. How can current college students take charge of their digital personas and put them to work for themselves?

My first piece of advice would be to Google yourself, and look carefully at the results. They might display one of several things:

  1. That article you wrote for the high school paper
  2. Pictures of you from last year’s spring break in Cancun
  3. Nothing at all.

Whatever comes up about you, don’t despair – while high school accomplishments aren’t bad, they aren’t really current and don’t display all of the hard work you’ve been (hopefully) doing in college. While certainly great keepsakes, your spring break pictures don’t really convey a sense of professionalism. If you’re not coming up in search results, maybe you’ve kept a low profile, but isn’t it better to be proactive rather than reactive?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Take charge of your search results! Make a great impression when employers are looking to learn more about you, instead of keeping them in the dark about what a great candidate you would be for that newly-available position. To do this, create some professional profiles for yourself on sites like LinkedIn, Naymz, ZoomInfo, and AboutUs. Make sure that the information you offer up in these profiles is professional and highlights the skills that will help you find the job you want. The Washington Post offers some tips on what to include or keep private on your LinkedIn profile that can be applied to other social media sites.

Part of making the most of your online reputation is keeping some things out of the public eye – for those profiles that are more social than professional, you may want to restrict your privacy settings to make yourself invisible in search results. Facebook offers an option to take yourself out of search engine results, found in the Privacy Settings tab. If you’re proud of your Facebook profile, and think that it passes professional muster, you can also use this feature to create a public search listing for yourself – just make sure your profile isn’t going to keep employers from hiring you.

We’ve all heard about how your digital identity can work against you, but by showcasing your great features in a professional way, you too can feel confident with your online reputation. Social networking doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so you might as well make sure that your online image makes an excellent impression.

In today’s working world, employers are starting to embrace social networking as a time-saving, financially savvy way to keep their employees connected, according to USA Today, and as a college student or recent grad you will almost be expected to be a social networking guru. Make sure that you exceed the expectations and enhance both your digital and professional reputations.

Utilizing Digital Media in a Smart and Relevant Way

As a recent college grad, I have rapidly gained a wealth of knowledge regarding digital media and the beneficial (and not so beneficial ways) to utilize these various forms of technology. Most job seekers these days begin and end their search online. With wildly popular sites such as Craigslist, Career Builder and Idealist, it’s hard for the broke twenty-something not periodically check them out. Whether you are pursuing grad school, or prefer to enter the professional world as soon as possible, there is no doubt that there are resources to help to you do so and they’re only a mouse-click away.

Generally speaking, I’ve found mixed messages about working towards the ‘next step’ in cyberspace. In career resource guides, such as What Color is Your Parachute, warn in the dangers of being too heavily reliant on websites. Statistically speaking, this is far from the top of the list in terms of job-search success rates. But personally, I would beg to differ with this. I currently hold a job at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum, an internship with Green Market Fundraising and of course serve as a member of the Eco-Friendly Internship team at Ingenex Digital Marketing. All three of these employment experiences I just so happened to stumble upon during several late night job-search sessions. 

Although I realize that I may an exception to this supposed rule, this raises several questions has to how one should approach the job search from such a plethora of digital listings and how to present yourself additionally. Personally, I would recommend to know yourself going into the search. It sounds stupidly simply, right? But take a moment to consider: What are you good at? What do you like doing? Where do you want to be? Are you interested in working for a non-profit for a for-profit organization? By asking yourself questions such as these, you can target sources of media that cater to what you really want. Approaching these utilities with an idealized outcome definitely proves to have advantages in terms of potential outcome.

Job search websites barely even scratch the surface of digital media’s usefulness for a young professional. As I discussed in my most recent blog post, social networking sites are a great way to make legitimate contacts and help get your presence known among an online community. LinkedIn, for instance, acts not only as a social utility that connects you to peers and superiors in any given industry, but allows you to actively search the United States for current job openings.

Many professionals, both young and old, may have difficulty creating a profile that is appropriate- whether their constraints be caused by lack of time, lack of experience or unfamiliarity with the given interface. Ingenex Digital Marketing‘s newest product, Social Harbor, offers a solution to this. Social Harbor offers professional online profile management- for a fee, they will create an online presence for you on a variety of social networking sites, create inbound links to your sites and create maximum SEO efficiency. This resource is entirely unique and offers a service unlike any other profile building agency on the web. If you’re interested in creating a legitimate, presentable profile online, I highly suggest you check it out!

Of course, these are very few examples of available online digital media resources relevant to recent college grads or those on the job hunt. These types of resources are ubiquitous; the ones you choose to use and how you choose to use them is entirely up to you. It is indeed important to present your self as you, but it is important to do so with considerable thought.

Politics and Social Networking

Social Networking and politics are developing a strong relationship during this current presidential race. The use of social networking as a tool to get votes is not new; social networking sites were already used by the candidates in 2004, but they were not given the importance that they have now.

So what has changed? In the first place, social networking sites were not as popular as they are now. Also, the candidates were not so active in the social networking and their profiles were more an extension of their campaign websites. Facebook now has more than 100 million users, and the more professional focused network, LinkedIn, already counts 24 million users. Politicians are also realizing that they can also get votes through using these social networking sites, as they allow them to interact with potential voters and let them be perceived as someone closer than the candidate we only see on the news. Regarding this matter, Barack Obama has asked two questions using the Questions and Answers service of LinkedIn: “What ideas do you have to keep America competitive in the years ahead?” which already has 3,108 responses and “How can the next president better help small business and entrepreneurs thrive?” which at this time has 1,493 answers.

The Obama campaign has also launched my.barackobama.com, a social networking site similar to Facebook for Obama supporters, where you can connect with your friends, create events and even create your own blog.

In many senses the Obama campaign seems to be more connected with social networking and in my opinion is doing a better job than the McCain campaign. I was able to find Barack Obama on LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Myspace and Twitter. I was only able to find John McCain on LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace.

I am not sure on how the social networking efforts of both candidates will be reflected in the elections results, but at this time, if we took Facebook as a reference, Barack Obama has 1,791,490 supporters, while John McCain has “only” 332,949 supporters. However, the main problem with these numbers is that the number of potential voters among these supporters is unknown, and if you look carefully you will notice many teenagers that are not able to vote yet and also many foreigners. If these results will have a reflection on the real elections, only time will tell.