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5 Reasons Why Ignoring Negative Social Media is a Career Ender for a VP of Customer Service

USA PDT [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype: 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the impact of Social Media on the perceived public image of a business, many Customer Service (CS) and Public Relations (PR) executives still handle negative Social Media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, etc.) by ignoring the bad publicity. One can only marvel at the rationale of an executive team in the 21st century, which believes that avoidance behavior of PR problems in the Social Media environment is the best policy.

I would suggest that there are four reasons for this philosophy, which are as follows:

Bad Social Media PR is Bad for Business

  • An outmoded understanding and/or denial of Social Media and its long-term impact on the company’s public image.
  • A belief that negative statements in the Social Media have no cumulative effect and that they will disappear over time.
  • An arrogance by the executives of a corporation that they control their public image by what they say and do and by the money they spend on advertising, not by what individuals outside the company say about them.
  • A belief that by giving attention to someone with a complaint about their company will cause more problems and possibly force the company to admit to their stupidity.
There are five reasons why ignoring negative Social Media is a bad idea and why the CS and PR executives who follow this policy have an expiration date on their careers:
  1. A negative Social Media comment is forever. It doesn’t fade and it doesn’t go away.
  2. A negative blog can and will be found by any Google search of your company. Why would a CS or PR executive let people who search for their company be exposed to everything said by the people who hate you?
  3. Bad comments on Social Media are cumulative. When someone is mad at your company they will search to find other people who feel the same way, and then you have a movement of people who are united against your company.
  4. Waiting to address bad publicity only makes a company look like they are hiding something when they finally do publicly address the issue, which is a lose, lose, loser in damage control.
  5. Once a company wakes up and realizes that ignoring bad PR is a stupid idea, how long will the implementor of that policy have before the company seeks someone who is smarter about handling negative Social Media?

A negative Social Media comment about a company is an opportunity. Everyone knows that major corporations are monitoring the Social Media, so when someone makes a negative comment they know that someone in the company is reading it. A company that contacts the author of the complaint to show concern will, at the very least, prove that the company appreciates its customers. By, 1) addressing the reason for the complaint and, 2) making some tangible effort to offer a reward to the person for bringing the issue to the company’s attention, the complainer will likely become a positive voice for the company’s public image and may even delete the negative blog or comment.

Companies, and their executives, who fail to address negative Social Media comments are risking their future. Netflix and United Airlines are just two examples of corporations that have done too little too late to address public image issues in the Social Media and they are paying the price. How many companies have to become a joke to their customers, investors, and the public before they realize the mistake they are making by ignoring Social Media?

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Who Uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace – Social Media Update: 4th Q 2010 and 1st Q 2011

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

The last two quarters have seen some interesting trends in the big four Social Media services. The most obvious is the leveling off of growth of Facebook and Twitter, but of greatest interest is the clarification of who is using the Social Media tools.

Despite the plateau reached during the last two quarters, Facebook gained 100 million unique visitors per month over the same time last year and now stands at 590 million unique visitors per month. Twitter is the runner-up at 97 million unique visitors. To put Facebook’s Internet presence in perspective, the combined daily circulation of the Wall Street Journal, USAToday, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post equals only 36% of the average daily unique visitors (19 million) of Facebook.

LinkedIn remains stagnant with no growth over the last five quarters and MySpace can claim the most significant trend as it continues its death spiral. It dropped from 80 million unique monthly visitors a year ago to 34 million at the end of the 1st quarter of 2011. This has all happened in a year where the owners of MySpace, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, made desperation efforts to re-invent the service, along with massive layoffs to cut costs, in hopes of selling it. So far, their attempts to prop up MySpace and sell it have failed.

FACEBOOK – Don’t Hate Them Because They’re Beautiful

The Disneyland of Social Media

Facebook has remained at an estimated unique visitor count of 590 million for in the last two quarters. This has caused some Social Media naysayers to proclaim that Social Media is dead. It’s amusing and sad at the same time. It’s like a used car salesman saying that new car sales are dead because they’ve leveled off for two quarters.

Facebook is and will continue to be the way that individuals communicate, inform, and influence others for the foreseeable future. A more reasonable growth during 2011 should be anticipated with Facebook ending the year around 610 to 625 million.

The return of female users on Facebook continues. I say ‘return’ because female users were at 60% at the end of the 1st quarter of 2010 and dipped in the middle of the year. The percentage of women users stood at 57% the end of the 3rd quarter 2010, 59% at the end of the 4th quarter, and is now at 61%.

There has been no significant change in the age groups using Facebook during the last three quarters. This would indicate that Facebook users are becoming more stable and identifiable in terms of demographics. Seventy-two percent of users are between 25 and 54, and dividing those into ten-year spans (25-34, 35-44, and 45-55) results in near equal distribution among the three age groups.

CONCLUSION: Facebook is used primarily by adults of both sexes, but significantly female, in the prime of their active professional careers for social interaction.

TWITTER – The Scoop on Real-Time Events and Discussion

The David to Traditional News Media's Goliath

Media ‘Experts’ continue to try to figure out how to ‘monetize’ Twitter and come away with programs that annoy people and are rejected by Tweeters. When they offer dismal ROI (return on investment) figures to their client they shrug their shoulders and declare Twitter is a fad and useless. Then a major world event happens and Twitter becomes the most important information tool on the planet.

Twitter is an acid test on whether a person ‘gets’ Social Media or not, because it is one of the most powerful Social Media tools on the web, but it is not a space for advertising or marketing. This makes Twitter one of the most envied and hated Social Media tools by traditional marketing and media people, but one of the most loved by those who are believers.

Twitter has been hanging just under 100 million unique users per month since the 2nd quarter of 2010, but did dip down to 89 million at the end of 2010. Since then Twitter has jumped back up to finish the 1st quarter of 2011 at 97 million. The jump in the 1st quarter of this year is likely due to the world political events in north Africa and the earthquake and tsunami in Nippon.

Women use Twitter more than men, but like Facebook, there was a dip in the middle of 2010, when female users dropped from 60% at the end of the 1st quarter. By the end of the 4th quarter female users were at 55% and that has grown to 57% at the end of 2011’s 1st quarter.

Age demographics for Twitter also haven’t changed significantly during the last three quarters. Twitter users skew towards the young professional age group with 54% of the users falling in the 25-44 age group. At the end of the 1st quarter of 2011, only 18% of the users fell in the 45-54 age range compared to 26% of Facebook users.

CONCLUSION: Twitter is used by primarily young professionals of both sexes, but significantly female, to discuss current, real-time issues including world events and business-related topics.

LINKEDIN – Social Media for Head Hunters and Salespeople

It's all about Marketing

Many people don’t realize that LinkedIn (launched in May 2003) predates Twitter (July 2006) Facebook (February 2004,) and MySpace (August 2003). Despite its seniority in the Social Media world, it has failed to catch fire with a larger audience. It is sometimes thought to be a Social Media tool for business, but this is almost always proposed by someone who is an employment recruiter or a sales and/or marketing person.

Because LinkedIn specializes in giving a person a format to publish their resumé it is the ideal network for those seeking employment as well as those who make a profit off of people seeking employment. The irony is that at a time of record unemployment, the unique users per month have stayed flat, alternating between 41 million and 38 million for the past five quarters, ending at 41 million this past quarter.

The reason LinkedIn lacks a higher level of interaction may be due to users who have an agenda (selling themselves or their services,) which is annoying to most Social Media users. It is an inherent flaw in the premise of LinkedIn that will always keep it from broader acceptance and usage by Social Media users who like interacting, but loath selling and advertising.

LinkedIn also creates barriers to forming connections by asking “How do you know ____ ?”, and in some situations will require a user to prove that they know the person by providing their email address. While you can work around these barriers fairly easily, it inhibits people from making new connections with someone who may have similar interests.

Regarding the male to female user ratio, male users have been at 55% for the past two quarters, which is up from the 50-50 split in the 1st quarter of 2010. The users also tend to be older professionals with the 35-54 age group making up 61% of the users at the end of the 2010, and 62% at the end of the 1st quarter of this year. Those percentages were up from 56% one year ago, indicating that LinkedIn users are skewing towards the older professional.

CONCLUSION: LinkedIn is used primarily by older professionals of both sexes, but significantly male, to market themselves and their services.

MySpace – 2011 R.I.P

A Social Media Radioactive Fallout Zone

It is time to accept that MySpace is no longer relevant as a Social Media tool. It seems to have been abandoned by all but, 1) independent bands who use it to advertise themselves, 2) law enforcement agencies who pose as 13 year-old girls using images of tweens in bathing suits to lure in child predators, 3) real teenagers saying that they are 19 or older to bypass the security restrictions on minors, or 4) females who are seeking to attract men and women to their adult site. That is oversimplifying it, but it is difficult, if not impossible to find anything about MySpace that would make it competitive with other Social Media tools like Facebook or Twitter.

In addition to the largely objectionable user base, the site is slow and requires a log in with each visit, rather than accept the cookie identification from the returning users’ computer like most other Social Media services.

News Corp seems to have made a major error in purchasing MySpace at a time when it needed massive updating and redesigning for a more sophisticated user. Instead they tried to dress it up last year as a music-based Social Media service and sell it off without investing the money needed to save it. It is now so dysfunctional that the best thing that could happen is to shut it down, build a new and better program from scratch, and launch a new service that competes with LinkedIn or finds a new niche.

It is rather pointless to discuss the age or sex demographics of MySpace because while the statistics for the last two quarters may indicate that the users are 68% female, false profiles seem to be so rampant on the service that nothing can be believed.

CONCLUSION: MySpace is used primarily for nefarious, hormonal, and/or deceptive reasons for purposes that tend to exploit or expose unsuspecting users.

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Facebook and Twitter Doomed?…Chicken Crap

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

Blogging is about open discussion and the expression of opinion, so I hesitate to contradict someone’s blog; however, when someone titles their blog referencing ‘doomed’ with any aspect of Social Media it gets my attention. I am trying to help older professional adults understand Social Media and what it means to business and organizations like Rotary. Rotarians are sometimes hesitant to engage in Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter because of irrational fears and a lack of good information.

Last week a blog was published by Gini Dietrich, who has the credentials to be knowledgeable in the field of Social Media and I do not call her experience or professionalism in to question; however her article called, “Creative Destruction: Why Facebook and Twitter May Be Doomed” requires a strong response.

Announcing the possible ‘doom’ two of the most significant tools in the digital world is clever because traditional media professionals and Social Media-phobs drool over anything that smacks of the end of the Internet and its place in civilized society. If I want to get a 10,000 hits on my blog this week, (and ongoing hits from Google searches,) including the words ‘doomed’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Internet’, and ‘Social Media’ would be one of the best tactics I could use. The problem is that the aside from pandering to those who remain firmly entrenched in 1989 thinking, Ms. Dietrich has little substance to support her dire prediction.

(Original blog by Gini Dietrich)

The blog focuses primarily on Facebook and the ongoing whining by non-Facebook users about privacy issues. Ms. Dietrich’s argument is essentially that the masses are ready to revolt and leave Facebook to ‘better’ networks that will be more restrictive to protect the user’s privacy. She goes on to suggest that Facebook and Twitter will be replaced just as they replaced earlier Social Media networking tools.

While every enterprise faces the same potential for creating its own demise, I strongly disagree that Facebook or Twitter may be ‘doomed’. Yes, users are a fickle group, but Friendster and MySpace were first-efforts in creating a comprehensive, open-networking Social Media tool and they had shortcomings that made them annoying (MySpace still does). It is true that Facebook and Twitter’s growth have been driven partly by capitalizing on the weaknesses of their predecessors; however, the major success of both was by bringing new people into the Social Media world with greater connectivity to quality users.

Dark clouds over Facebook?

Facebook attracted a larger segment of the population, including older users that suddenly became addicted to the connections that it provided. Today, even those who dislike Facebook have had a hard time detaching themselves from it because 540 million Social Media users cannot be ignored without sacrificing something significant. The problem is that another networking service may solve certain dissatisfiers of Facebook, but until everyone you know, or want to know moves to that service, you have to try to live in two or more networking worlds, and that is a pain. So a person has to weigh whether they are frustrated enough to add one more networking group to their attention span or live with Facebook.

Ms. Dietrich ignored the other possibility.  That instead of leaving, people may realize and accept that online privacy is a myth. I am constantly amazed by people who believe that they can be anonymous on the Internet. They think that a nondescript user name means that their identity is protected or that a comment they make will disappear the next day. I don’t disagree that there are some legitimate privacy issues and the FCC is proposing new regulations to address many of these issues, but a significant part of the problem is not a problem of Facebook’s creation, but of the gullibility of the user who thinks that they are ‘in disguise’ when they are on the web.

Regarding Twitter, Ms. Dietrich gave little reason for her ominous prediction. Yes, this year Twitter was having many problems with service failures and even I have said this is a problem that must be fixed, but in the 4th quarter I have experienced nothing but reliable service from Twitter.

Personally, I think I think most people have undervalued Twitter. It is perceived by many non-users as a network of celebrities and pointless dribble of ‘what-I-just-did’. However, the core of Twitter consists of people discussing cutting edge issues. It is the only service that brings together people around the world who are focused on one topic with searchable hashtags. If it can overcome its poor public image and be recognized for what it can do, it could jump from 100 million users to 500 million users in 6 months. It is more likely to be the center of business discussion than any other service out there. LinkedIn (started May 2003) is older than MySpace (started Aug. 2003) and it is has been leapfrogged by Twitter (started July 2006) with over twice as many users (41 million vs Twitter’s 98 million.)

The wanna-be replacements for Facebook and Twitter have one big problem.  Some of the very things that users say they want to protect them also restrict the connections that give Facebook and Twitter advantages in adding new users and making new connections.  If any networking service is doomed it is LinkedIn because it has such a complicated system to add new connections (How do you know this person?) that it renders itself irrelevant.

Yes, Facebook has made some stupid mistakes, but if everyone organization that made stupid mistakes was ‘doomed’ then Wal-Mart, Target, HP, Microsoft, Apple, Exxon, and thousands of others mega organizations are all ‘doomed’.

Will Facebook and Twitter be the giants in 2015?  I doubt it, but I don’t see any other Social Media tool that will challenge them in the next two years and is why my response to the suggestion of ‘doom’ is simply: Chicken Crap.

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Rotary@105: 7 Relationship types that affect membership retention (Part II)

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

NOTE: This article is a secondary article to
Relationships Typing: 3 factors that the affect quality and depth of friendship

As mentioned in the first part of this article, I have defined three factors that seem to determine the quality of my relationships. 1) Trust, 2) Common Interests and/or Experiences, 3) Equality.

By using a 21-point scale to rate each factor in various relationship types we can see how Trust (or the lack of), Common Interests and/or Experiences (or the lack of), and Equality (or the lack of) define the relationship. Below are seven types of benchmark relationships and how they might affect membership retention in a Rotary club.

Too much friendship?

The Star
We all have people who we look up to, but there are just a few people that we put on a pedestal. I see the Star relationship as one where the trust level is relatively high (+7 on a scale of -10 to +10) as well as the common interest level (+8 on a scale of -10 to +10), but we feel inferior (a -9 on a scale of -10 to +10) to this person. In this relationship the depth and quality of the relationship is usually shallow. These people are not close friends, but rather an admired acquaintance. A new member in a Rotary club might see the Club President as the Star.

The Mentor
The Mentor is a different version of the Star. The difference is that we trust the Mentor implicitly (+10) and we have a strong common interest (+9); however, we see ourselves as inferior (-6) to our Mentor. The Mentor has achieved a level of success that we hope reach and our relationship is based on a mutual effort to gain an equal level of success in the future. I think it is a mistake to believe that a Mentor relationship can be imposed. The only successful Mentor relationships I have observed are those that have occurred by a mutual agreement of both parties. In over nine years in Rotary have witnessed few successful Mentor relationships. When it does happen it is a win-win situation for both members, but the Mentor must be highly skilled and/or knowledgeable, a passionate person, and a great trainer. In addition, the ‘trainee’ must recognize the Mentor’s superior knowledge and have a desire to learn from him or her. If not, the relationship will fail.

A Partnership is not necessarily a friendship

The Partner
I see the Partner as a relationship seeking mutual benefit for both people, but without the level of trust of a Mentor relationship. In a Partner relationship the trust is conditional (0, not + or -) and the two people usually see the other as his or her  equal (0) or at least they have something of value that balances the relationship, but the common interest is high (+9). I would consider the Partner relationship to be a symbiotic or co-dependent relationship and while the relationship may seem to be a strong bond, the slightest feeling of inequality or betrayal can end the relationship. In Part I of this series I mentioned that the employer/employee relationship might be a partnership, but I also believe that some marriages can start out, or devolve into Partner type relationships. In a Rotary club a member who has established mostly Partner relationships with other members is likely to have no deep attachment to the club and likely to leave.

The Friend
Of all relationships, I think a Friend is the hardest to achieve. A quality friendship involves a high level of trust (+9) and a significant level of common interests and/or experiences (+6), but also a genuine feeling of equality (0) must exist. The trust and equality factors for a friendship are difficult for most people to offer to another person. It is a special relationship and one to be highly valued, but once achieved it is a strong bond that lasts over time and distance. If every member were to have only one other true ‘Friend’ in his or her club most members would never consider leaving.

The Rival or Competitor
A rival is a relationship, even though we usually don’t think of it as one. It is a relationship based on mistrust (-8) of another person and somewhat ironically, a relationship that includes a high level of common interests (+8). I think that while we may feel we are superior to our rival that the truth is that we are afraid that we are not, thus I give an equality rating of (+3) to a Rival relationship. The Rival relationship is one of the worst possible relationships that could develop in a Rotary club. Sooner or later the club is going to be drawn into the conflict or one or more members will leave because of it. Ironically, it is the high level of common interest that seems to set up the Rival/Competitor situation. Without the envy or jealousy caused by the common interest both people would probably ignore each other.

Common Interest can enhance a relationship, or create conflict

The Subordinate or Submissive
Note that with the Subordinate relationship I am talking about someone who sees another person as their subordinate or submissive. This can be an employer/employee type relationship, but it is any relationship where a person sees him/herself as superior (+10) to another person. The trust level is relatively high (+5) as the person with the bigger ego expects the subordinate to obey their wishes and typically there is somewhat of a common interest (+3), but not necessarily a significant level of commonality. The big problem I have seen with this type of relationship is that the target of this attitude may not feel that they should be the subordinate. In a Rotary club it is surprising easy for a club leader to see other club members as their subordinate. Nothing creates a false sense of power like a title and in a volunteer organization titles are meant to assign responsibility, not authority, but not everyone understands that concept.

The Alien or Blank
It seems somewhat pointless to talk about the lack of a relationship as a type of relationship, but the I find it interesting to understand that some people just don’t show up on our relationship radar even though we may see them on a regular basis. I didn’t fully understand this until I was in Rotary, but after a few years in a club you learn the some people can disappear in plain sight. I feel the lack of a relationship, when there realistically should be is a type of relationship and I refer to it as an Alien or Blank relationship.

The quality of Friendship
I would not argue the point that it takes two to make or break a relationship; however, I would argue that the quality and depth of any relationship is determined largely by our own attitudes, in concert with the way the other person treats us. Understanding the factors that influence a relationship is the first step to making positive changes. In a Rotary club, failing to recognize that not all relationships are constructive can have major consequences on membership retention.

In Part I of this series I talked about a facilitator at a meeting who didn’t want to dilute his ‘friendships’ with people in the Social Media. My response to him is this: friendship is more about what we bring to the table and not the method of connection. The Social Media is not a threat to good friendships, just a different way to engage in them.

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Relationship Typing: 3 factors that affect quality and depth of friendship (Part I)

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

Several weeks ago I was at a Rotary District Leadership training meeting and I made a comment that the Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter allow us to have more friends and more connections to other people. I was shocked into silence when one of the facilitators said that he didn’t want that. He explained that his friends were those very close, very special people that he choose to be friends with, and that he didn’t want to dilute his social circle with people from the Social Media.

It was an interesting point and it caused me to start thinking about the quality and depth of the relationships of the people around me. In several decades of business, procurement of two bachelor’s degrees, and almost a decade in Rotary I have learned that not everyone is my ‘friend’ even though I may have frequent contact with them. All of us have people who are important to us and we all have people who we just don’t like, but until now I hadn’t focused on the factors that seem to define my relationships.

Understanding what shapes my attitude is a significant step towards taking an active role in building better and less conflictive relationships with the people around me. For this reason I wanted to explore what determines what type of relationship we have with another person.

I have come up with three factors that seem to determine the quality of my relationships. 1) Trust, 2) Common Interests and/or Experiences, 3) Equality.

Trust, Common Interest, and Equality

The trust factor seems obvious, but I find this to be a complex issue. Trust can be absolute, non-existent, or conditional. For example, I would propose that many employer/employee relationships are based on a conditional trust where both parties are on the constant guard of the other person betraying his or her trust.

The common interest and/or experiences factor may also seem obvious; however, sometimes common interests or experiences can create feelings of jealousy, envy, rivalry, or disgust. Just because two people have a lot in common doesn’t result in a bond of appreciation.

The final factor is not as obvious. My experience is that the level of equality felt by a person is a significant factor in determining the quality and depth of a relationship. In an organization of volunteers like a Rotary club we often mistakenly believe that everyone is equal, but my experience has been that the relationships that form in a typical Rotary club are often shaped, at least in part, by one person’s feeling of superiority over another.

Using these three factors I have been able to better define the quality and depth of my relationships. Because each of  these factors have a positive and negative component, I use an 21-point scale (-10, -9, -8, … -1, 0, +1, … +8, +9, +10) to score their significance. For example a Relationship Type might be low in trust (-7), high in common interest (+8), and neutral in equality (0). While all relationships reflect a continuum of these factors I have defined seven benchmark relationship types and have scored each factor on the 21-point scale.

In part two of this article I will define the seven relationship types and their scoring. I also will discuss how the relationship type might impact membership retention in a Rotary club.

Click on the link below for the continuing article
Rotary@105: Relationship types affect membership retention

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Your Privacy Rights on the Internet: Read before you write.

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

I have had several discussions with people who have a fear of the Internet and Social Media tools. The common issue that arises is regarding privacy, which to me is an interesting concern. Being concerned that you’re giving up your privacy if you use the Internet is, to me, a Homer Simpson moment.

I’m not sure where anyone got the idea that writing something and sending it out over a public system of servers, visible to almost anyone, and recorded for all time would be private, but for those of you who have that impression, let me read you your rights:

Your Right to Privacy on the Internet

  • You have a right to stay silent.
  • You have a right to not participate in Internet/online activities.
  • You have a right to consult an attorney before you participate in any Internet/online activities.
  • You have the right to stay in your house, block up the windows and never go out into public.
  • If you choose to participate in any Internet/online activities, anything you say can and will:
    • be considered a reflection of your public image
    • be available for anyone in the world to access
    • be recorded for the remainder history of the civilized world
    • be used against you now, or in the future
  • If you choose to NOT participate that will NOT prevent:
    • People from talking about you on the Internet
    • People using your image for almost any purpose
The Internet, and Social Media tools like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn allow people to communicate in a way we’ve never been able to communicate before. It is not intended for private discussions, but it is an open forum. That makes some people uncomfortable, and while I understand that, I also have to wonder why people have a need to say something they are not willing to say publicly?

There is still a time and place for a personal, one-to-one conversation to discuss matters between the two people, but isn’t that better to be done in person? Privacy is not what one should expect when using the Internet, but it is the place for ideas and concepts to be discussed in an open environment that values the input of all. Yes, sometimes the stupid people have louder voices and win the day, but at some point people will look back and learn who was behaving stupidly and who was really correct.

Here are four things I try to keep in mind when participating in online activities:

  1. Sometimes I’m going to say something stupid. I’m human and I will have to buck up and take responsibility for it.
  2. Sometimes people are going to ridicule what I have to say. That doesn’t mean they are correct and it may be a reflection of their poor judgement, not mine.
  3. By participating I will learn more than I could if I did not participate. Sometimes the lesson will be difficult, but that will usually mean I will learn more.
  4. Social Media is not the alpha and omega of life, but it is one of the most powerful communication tools ever conceived.
Now you have been read your rights… you can take it from here.

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Social Media 3Q 2010 Update: Who Uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & MySpace:

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

The third quarter 2010 demographics of Social Media users according to Google’s Adplanner services has a few surprises. Facebook actually dropped from 550 to 540 million users in the third quarter, and Facebook users over age 54 dropped from 16% to 10% in the last six months. Based on the data from the 2nd and 3rd quarters there is a significant slowing in the growth of the major Social Media tools.

Among the numbers are the interesting age group distributions of each of the networking sites. The data gives important clues of what each site is being used for in addition to who is using it.

Facebook’s Fire Cools
No one can dispute Facebook’s impact on the world. It is BIG, and with millions of posts and interactions each day, the influence of its users is the envy of every marketing professional. Traditional media professional and other old people will be tempted to look at the 3rd quarter data and declare that the Social Media ‘fad’ is over and on the decline. That would be a statement of ignorance.

Facebook 3rdQ 2010 DAILY visits

Facebook’s growth could not continue indefinitely and its amazing growth in users from 2008 to the start of 2010 was being fueled by a viral exploration of a new media that allowed people to connect in a way they never had before. Now that exploration has calmed and I believe we are seeing the coming of age of Social Media.

The drop of 10 million users during the third quarter is only significant in that it shows a leveling off of the growth. The average time on the site is over 23 minutes, which is much longer than the other three major U.S. Social Media tools (MySpace 14:40 mins., Twitter 13:10 mins., LinkedIn 9:50 mins.) That is important as more time spent means more interaction and more influence by users and advertisers.

Facebook reaches almost 57% of the people in the United States (35% worldwide) which is a staggering statistic. If USA Today could reach 57% of Americans (without giving the newspaper away to every hotel guest) and know that the readers were spending over 23 minutes looking at their paper they would probably be the only newspaper in the United States… and mega rich. As of March 2010, USA Today has a circulation of only 1.8 million compared to Facebook’s over 65 million visitors (based on cookies.)

3rdQ Facebook Users by Age

1stQ Facebook Users by Age

One statistic that keeps bouncing around in the Social Media world is that “women over 55 is the fastest growing group of Facebook users.” That it is old data. While the over 55 group had climbed to 16% at the end of March 2010, it is now the fastest shrinking age group and Facebook users under 18 years old have been the fastest growing group during the last six months.

Finally, 57% of the Facebook users are women, which is about the same as six months ago. That seems to confirm that Facebook is about ‘social’ networking and making personal connections. Facebook continues to be the place where buying decisions are influenced through small group interactions. Business and Marketing people will find that if they try to manipulate these discussions it will eventually backfire on them. Facebook is where business should LISTEN, not talk.

Twitter 3rdQ 2010 DAILY visits

Twitter Continues to Pause
The biggest surprise in the 3rd Quarter with Twitter was that it did not break the 100 million user mark. At the end of the 2nd Quarter it was at 96 million users, which was up by 16 million from the 1st Quarter. However, Twitter only grew by 2 million and now stands at 98 million users.

Twitter’s daily visits have leveled off for the last six months, and some might see this as an ominous sign for the hyper-fast post Social Media tool; however, this is deceiving as many Twitter users, (like myself,) don’t go to the Twitter site to use the tool, but rather use an application, like TweetDeck, to interact on the site. Thus the visit count would not be recorded as a site visit.

Twitter’s lack of significant growth in the number of users may be do to a continued lack of understanding of the value of the Tweet world and a period of constant ‘Fail Whales’ in the 2nd Quarter and early 3rd Quarter. The service has seemed to address the major problems in system overloads, but lately has had a return of a few service interruptions in the past few weeks. Obviously, if Twitter continues to have problems it won’t be able to survive in an environment where reliability is oxygen to users.

As for the lack of understanding of the value of Twitter, the service will struggle to grow until people can learn that the impact of Twitter is not in the posts, but the conversations and the URL links to other blogs and webpages. Twitter is like Headline News for new ideas and concepts. Often posts reveal a new approach or cutting-edge information that won’t be in the traditional public arena for months. That is why I still see Twitter growing if they can rid themselves of service interruptions.

3rdQ 2010 Twitter users by Age

1stQ 2010 Twitter users by Age

One interesting development in the latest data is the shift in the age demographics. Twitter seems to have made a shift to younger adults. The 18-34 age group is up by 16%, while the 35-64 age group is down by 9% from six months ago. Also, teenagers (under 18) have dropped by 6% since the 1st quarter and now make up only 4% of all Twitter users. The apparent dislike for Twitter among teenagers is a clear age defining characteristic. I have had two separate teenagers say to me “You’re not on Twitter, are you!?”

Apparently Twitter gives you cooties. Who knew?

MySpace Back From the Brink?
I have predicted the end of MySpace for sometime, but in the 3rd quarter it did something bizarre … it gained users. It had dropped 14 million users from the 1st to the 2nd quarter and then it gained one million users back in the 3rd quarter. MySpace now stands at 67 million users. Not earth-shaking, but certainly noteworthy. LinkedIn would sacrifice several interns to have that many users. MySpace also has more women. Female users consist of 64% of the MySpace population.

MySpace 3rdQ 2010 DAILY visits

The reason? Well, no other major Social Media tool lets you search by gender … and age … and height … and race … and body type … and sexual orientation … are you getting the picture? MySpace is a social dating site as much as anything else and lonely people make up a lot of our world’s population. So maybe MySpace has found its niche as a romance network and that will stop the freefall of the past two quarters.

3Q 2010 MySpace users by Age

3rdQ 2010 MySpace users by Age

Yes, there are more teenagers on this site than most (14%), but 63% of the users are between 18 and 44 years old. One caveat. MySpace has limited the ‘find-a-friend’ search function to give the results of people age 18 and over. That is a smart move to protect minors; however, some teenagers have simply listed themselves as an age of 18 or older to circumvent the limitation. I caught a few teenagers that list themselves as 19, but on their main page description they indicate their real age. This is likely why the number of ‘under 18’ users have dropped from 34% to 14% in six months.

LinkedIn Drifting in Niche
The 3rd quarter statistics show that despite millions of people looking work, the business person to business person website of LinkedIn is not growing. It is at 41 million,
which is actually higher than the end of 2nd quarter, but the same as the end of the 1st quarter.

LinkedIn 3rdQ DAILY visits

Like MySpace, LinkedIn has found its niche. Essentially, LinkedIn is a business-oriented website that provides a job exchange service. Most users are using the networking website as their digital résumé in order to attract job offers. In the Tom Peters ‘Re-Imagine’ business world where branding is a key element of survival, LinkedIn is Mecca for self-promotion.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn is not as successful as Facebook and Twitter in two-way interaction. Both of those Social Media tools do not have as much as of an ‘agenda’ by individual users as LinkedIn. Users of the business-oriented network seem to spend more time professing what they know and don’t spend as much time listening to others. This is the traditional media model of one-way communication, which is the style of communication that Social Media has displaced. For some, the self-promotion run amuck style of some LinkedIn users is a turn off that may hurt the site in the long run.

3Q 2010 LinkedIn user by Age

1stQ 2010 LinkedIn users by Age

It will be interesting to see how LinkedIn will fare as the business-caused Recession of 2007-09 eases and people are employed again. LinkedIn could be a key to a sudden labor shortage in 2012 as those companies with the best opportunities will be able to target and recruit candidates through LinkedIn, leaving other employers to either compete or settle for what’s left over.

Age and gender on LinkedIn reinforce the business-world orientation as more males (57%) are users and the distribution of the age groups reflects the working world. Interestingly, while LinkedIn still has more users over 54 years old (15%), this is 7% drop from the 1st quarter. That is offset by an 8% jump of the 24-34 year old users in the last six months.

4th Quarter Predictions?
I believe we are seeing a refinement of each of the big four Social Media tools. Facebook has become the social sharing network, Twitter is the thought-provoking, learning network, MySpace is the social relationship network, and LinkedIn the branding and résumé network. The demographics are settling in to reinforce the existing nature of each of the networks. Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will likely end 2010 about where they are now unless something viral either cause a rush of new users, or sends people running away. Twitter still has potential significant growth, but I don’t see that happening in the 4th quarter.

The volatility of the Social Media networks have made it difficult to understand what they will eventually represent in our world; however, now that there seems to be a calming of the major networks, the value and purpose is becoming clearer. That will allow the big four to lock in their market; however, it will also open the door for other networks to identify areas of opportunities and weakness. My prediction is that 2011 will be the entrenchment of the Social Media, followed by more competition by other networks seeking to improve or offer alternatives to the established services.

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