Category Archives: Facebook

5 Social Video Marketing Examples – “Social Video” in Business Today

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Last week I gave my best shot at defining what is “social video marketing.” In today’s article, I showcase 5 examples from companies that I think are meeting that definition.  These examples  are doing social video marketing not just for sales and visibility, but because it reflects an important part of their own business model and business culture.

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I liken this article to going out to dinner tapas-style – 5 big appetizers that make up a tasty dish on social video marketing. I’ve kept the information short for each numbered example; and I have included a small, embedded video where feasible, along with a link to any existing article for more information, entrée-style. I’m not getting into what examples or business models are proven business successes, because those could all be individual articles in themselves. Instead I want to start you off with an idea of what’s possible, so we can see how this newly-defined marketing niche we call social video marketing is beginning to take shape.

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Social Video Marketing Example #1: The Fun Social Experiment

I consider BlendTec to be one of the very early pioneers of social video marketing. Their “Will It Blend?”  claim to fame is showcasing all the ways that their retail and commercial blenders can blend things you would never likely see in any television commercial. All the possibilities they have come up with  are on their YouTube Channel. It has been going strong since 2006, and some of their more popular videos (they’re very good about covering the latest gadgets or pop culture products) have amassed over 10 million viewers individually! Their videos are hilarious with a 60’s-kitch soundtrack; they have solid production, creative writing, and a concise video length. Also the company’s own founder, Tom Dickson, appears as the host of every video to show off the power of his blender.

Want more of this topic? Watch my interview with Blendtec’s George Wright, former VP of Marketing and Sales who came up with the BlendTec video marketing strategy.

Social Video Marketing Example #2: Exploring Controversy and Creating Dialogue

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This edgy-but-compassionate Midwestern evangelical pastor and author recently put out a religious book titled, “Love Wins – A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person.” Even before his book released on March 15th of this year, the buzz from his promotional YouTube video helped generate lots of mainstream media attention, and skyrocketed the book to #6 on’s best sellers’ list. If you do a search on YouTube and Google Video, you’ll see that Bell has been doing social video for many years. I liken Rob’s style to an attraction for “tipping sacred cows,” which he manages to express in a way that’s both palatable enough to both his target market as well as people outside his evangelical circles, who are attracted to both his message and the creative ways he expresses it with both social media and online video.

Want more? Read my article, “Social Video Marketing Wins! What Rob Bell and ‘Love Wins’ Can Teach Us.”

Social Video Marketing Example #3: The Video Apology and Remedy

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Social video marketing isn’t only about creating entirely positive new experiences for customers. Sometimes it involves demonstrating responsibility when you make mistakes, and a way to make amends. Domino’s USA’s Pizza Apology Video featuring their CEO was an excellent way to respond to the Domino’s Prank Video posted on YouTube back in 2009. However to turn a big negative into a positive for sales, what they had to do was build on the original apology and show a strong, continued effort to follow up with videos directly. So the following year in 2010, Domino’s launched the “Show Us Your Pizza” contest website, featuring Domino’s USA’s own head chef inserted into actual user-submitted videos of people’s pizza experiences with Domino’s. (One video I particularly enjoy is where the head chef personally delivers a new pizza directly to a customer who got a botched order, and he interviews the actual customer about his whole experience, right at the guy’s dinner table.) Domino’s YouTube channel and their Show Us Your Pizza website are great examples of how to turn a big negative into a big positive using video. They combined an apology with a remedy, engaged with their customers, and empowered them in a fun way.

Want more of this topic? Read my article, “Time for Your Business to Apologize on Video? Social Video Marketing Remedies.”

Example #4: The Video Help-Desk for Everyone

Google Webmaster Help

Google Webmaster Help’s YouTube Channel

Google Webmaster Help’s YouTube Channel is an excellent example of how any business can put their own frequently asked questions into a series of videos. Google describes the channel as “a one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors.”

Each episode is hosted by Google’s senior software engineer Matt Cutts, who has worked for them since 2000 and is in charge of enforcing the Google Webmaster Guidelines; and whom I’ve personally known since 2002. Each of the videos is done with stellar audio and video quality, with a simple yet well-light solid color backdrop that varies between episodes. Users are encouraged to submit questions for future videos, and Matt always announces the name of the submitter in the beginning (where both the name and question are featured as a clear text graphic). It’s a great example of how any individual question can be a great opportunity to respond to in a video, that is very easily shared with people who have the same question.

Want more of this topic? Read the Google Webmaster Central Blog post with their introduction of the YouTube channel.

Example #5: Staff as the Helpful Video Presenters (and Personalities)

Zappos is a retail shoe company

Zappos a retail shoe company

Zappos is a retail shoe company that embodies social video marketing deep into its business culture. Their own staff showcases all of their products by holding them in their hands to present them directly to the camera.

“We get a lot of customer feedback on our YouTube channel and prior to having tracking, we used this as a way to gauge how well our videos were received.  We used google’s fancy analytics as a starting point for how long our videos should be, where most of our customers were located, what kind of videos they were interested in, etc.”  Zappos also has a YouTube channel called The Zappos Experience, created for their customers to submit their own video to Zappos with their feedback and questions.

I recently spoke with Zappos’ own Video and Product Manager, Laurie Williams, who shared with me this information on their marketing success:

  • Zappos plans on shooting a video for all incoming new products this year. That turns out to be around 100,000 new videos.
  • They have 19,000 videos indexed on google.
  • They offer social media share (Facebook, Twitter, blog) icons on all product videos.
  • Their recent addition of a video button (and text graphic “video”) shot up their website video views from 20,000 video hits a day to 160,000 – an 800% increase.

Want more of this topic? Check out my article and video interview with Zappos’ Laurie Williams, taken at the Liveclicker Video Commerce Consortium Summit in July 2010.

This is a very small sampling of companies that are doing social video marketing that I think we can also learn a lot from and implement in own marketing and ecommerce efforts. I’m looking forward to exploring much more of online space and showing more examples of companies today that are “getting social” with their video marketing communications. It should help us all learn how to better combine the technology, media, and creative culture needed to build better business relationships with our customers and colleagues while driving results.

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Six Social Media Trends for 2011

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It was a banner year for social media growth and adoption. We witnessed Facebook overtake Google in most weekly site traffic, while some surveys reported nearly 95% of companies using LinkedIn to help in recruiting efforts. In my outlook for last year, I cited that mobile would become a lifeline to those looking for their social media fixes, and indeed the use of social media through mobile devices increased in the triple digits.

I also outlined how “social media would look less social” or more accurately exclusive, and indeed, we’ve seen the re-launch of Facebook groups, which focus on niche interactivity, and more recently, the emergence of Path, billed as “the social network for intimate friends” which limits your network to only 50 people. The past year also saw some brands go full throttle on Foursquare‘s game-like geo-location platform, attempting to reward mayors and creating custom badges for the network’s power users.

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In other areas, such as social media policy, I was less accurate. Conversations around the topic did begin to take place, But a global survey indicated that only 29 percent of companies even have a social media policy. That’s not as high as I expected.

So what could we see happening in 2011? I’ll take a stab at six trends again. In no particular order:

It’s The Integration Economy, Stupid. From Ford, to Dell, to Starbucks (client), to Jet Blue, and a host of other companies who have pioneered early uses of social media for business, 2011 will be the year these companies take a serious look at integrating social media, not only regionally but globally. Don’t be surprised if the same companies that piloted programs such as Ford’s “Fiesta Movement” and Starbuck’s Foursquare programs also become the first companies to take on the huge challenge of integrating social media into all facets of business from global marketing to crisis management and beyond.

Tablet & Mobile Wars Create Ubiquitous Social Computing. As competition heats up in the form of cheaper, smarter phones and an assortment of tablets that may hit the market (a $35 Tablet in India?), technology consumers will come one step closer to being connected 24/7, and in more powerful ways than previously possible. Social networking will be on the go, out of the house, and out of the office. More competition, variety, power, and affordability in devices will fuel the increase of ubiquitous social computing.

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Facebook Interrupts Location-Based Networking. If 2010 belonged to Foursquare and its playful, competitive and sometimes addicting ecosystem of badges, mayorships and specials, it’s likely that Facebook will rain on Foursquare’s parade in 2011. With tons of data and the architecture behind Facebook’s response to Foursquare about to be rolled out globally, Facebook is well positioned to actually make location based services useful to business.

Average Participants Experience Social Media Schizophrenia. While social media schizophrenia (the overload of multiple social profiles) is nothing new to tech mavens, it will become something that more and more “average” users experience as they tweet, Facebook, G-mail, chat, Skype, BBM, SMS, and Tumble their way across the social web. While many mavens have adopted ways to manage and cope, average users may find themselves at the beginning of the curve in need of a 12-step social identity program. This may lead to increased demand from typical participants to have a more integrated and simplified social graph and an opportunity for platforms and companies alike to meet this demand.

Google Doesn’t Beat Them, They Join Them. In 2010, Wired told us that Facebook could beat Google to win the net. But even at the end of 2010 after failed attempts to create their own networks such as Buzz, Google could prove that the best way to beat Facebook, Twitter, and the rest is to do what Google does best: Index them to pieces. Indeed, I’ve already noticed Google’s algorithm has become smarter about Twitter data. I only have to type in a few words to locate old tweets. It’s possible that by sticking to what Google does best, they may be able to take advantage of the social web by indexing any and all social data they can get their hands on. Expect the Googleplex to “strike back” in 2011, and perhaps demonstrate that they may figure out their role and relevancy on the social Web.

Social Functionality Makes Websites Fashionable Again. After several years of being told to “fish where the fish are,” businesses realize that users expect social integration to existing Websites. Sites such as AMEX Open forum serve as a model for how networks such as Twitter can integrate with the Web experience. Websites will increasingly serve as “digital hubs” that integrate social activity from many platforms. For example, Apple’s music social network, named Ping, recently integrated Twitter. While the integration has kinks, it demonstrates that even the most iconic of brands realizes that they do not exist in their own walled garden. They must integrate to be relevant in a socially connected world.

These are a few emerging trends that come to my mind. I’m interested to hear what you think as well, so please weigh in with your own thoughts. Where do you see social media going in 2011?

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HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Facebook and Twitter Promotions

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Alanna Francis is an SEO Strategist at Blue Fountain Media, the website design and marketing company. Her focus isecommerce websites, including the men’s skin care brandAnthony For Men. You can follow her on Twitter@alannafrancis.

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Once upon a time, you had to use a phone book to find a business’s contact details. Mercifully, those days are behind us. As social media has worked its way into every aspect of our lives, we as a culture have come to expect that our favorite brands — from “Big Gay Ice Cream” trucks to national airlines and fashion houses — are easily accessible on the most popular social networks.
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However, it’s no longer enough to simply interact. Consumers are increasingly hungry for promotions, exclusive discounts and giveaways. In fact, recent data suggests that most people who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter both expect and want to receive coupons from these brands.

According to an Ad Age/Ipsos Observer survey of 1,000 participants regarding digital consumption habits, 65% of consumers want the brands they follow to offer coupons. Compare this figure to the percentage of respondents who said they wanted enhanced customer service (42%) and you begin to get a clearer picture of the landscape.

Certainly the Ad Age numbers indicate that the demand for promotions exists, but how effective are Twitter andFacebook promotions in practice? Do they really increase engagement or sales? While no conclusive studies have been done on this exact topic, substantial anecdotal evidence suggests that they do.

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Examples to Learn From

A recent Facebook case study highlighting a campaign by Healthy Choice, shows positive results.

Targeting healthy eating-related keywords on Facebook’s ad platform, Healthy Choice created a promotion that exploited the viral nature of social sharing. The frozen food brand offered a coupon that increased in value as more people “Liked” its page and signed up to receive the deal.

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As a result of the promotional campaign, Healthy Choice saw their connections explode from 6,800 to approximately 60,000 at the time of the study. A quick check of their fan page shows that they have gained over 8,000 additional connections since that time. Healthy Choice witnessed 3 times more user engagement after the promotion than prior, and by offering a newsletter capture on the coupon signup form, they were able to register approximately 60% of connections for their mailing list. Pretty impressive for a product as mundane as frozen dinners.

What remains to be seen is the staying power of Healthy Choice’s newfound audience. It seems likely that engagement will taper at least slightly now that the campaign is over, as users who connected solely to receive coupons start to tune out. It will be up to Healthy Choice to continue interacting with their broadened fan base in new and creative ways.

Renowned designer Diane Von Furstenberg has also been famously successful in social media. With over 100,000 Facebook fans and 182,000 Twitter followers, the brand certainly has a solid audience to draw on. At this very moment, DVF is offering free shipping and an unspecified gift (a pony?!) to users who refer a friend to the brand’s page. What makes this campaign smart is that, similar to Healthy Choice, it offers rewards for spreading awareness of the brand to others.

In 2010, Diane Von Furstenberg reported a 13% gain in web traffic after having been active in social media.

All these numbers are exciting, but the key to seeing a positive return on your efforts is to execute your promotion in such a way as to encourage maximum engagement. Here’s how to dive in.

Define Your Goals

Defining goals” sounds almost too obvious to be worth mentioning, you’d be surprised at how often businesses fail to pinpoint goals for their social media efforts. The allure of Twitter and Facebook promotions is strong. It’s tempting to look around at the competitive landscape and imitate the actions of others without fully understanding what’s at stake. By defining exactly what you hope to gain from your promotion, you can better design the promotion itself to achieve these goals.

Do you want to gain followers or “Likes?” Design your promotion to provide incentives for doing so. Reward your 1,000th follower with a lavish gift bag, free consultation, or complimentary meal. Encourage retweets and shares to further spread the word.

Do you want to drive sales on your ecommerce site? Offer small, one-time discounts or free shipping offers to anyone who follows or “Likes” your brand and shares your campaign.

Do you want to garner more newsletter subscribers? Give users the chance to sign up to your mailing list when you give them their coupon or promo code.

Exploit the Medium

Facebook and Twitter both have enormous potential to spread promotions at viral rates. It’s up to you to craft your campaign to take full advantage of this fact. Learn from the strategies of Healthy Choice and DVF, who incentivized sharing with rewards, thus expanding their campaigns’ reach exponentially.

Set Metrics

Once you’ve defined your goals, you must also set metrics for measuring your achievements. Make sure you have a solid grasp on all your “before” figures before the campaign launches and be sure you know how to isolate social media traffic from your data.

Evaluate and Adjust

Finally, as our grade school teachers always told us, learn from your mistakes. If your first attempt was more of a belly flop than an olympic dive, don’t develop a fear of the water. Just be sure to assess the strengths and weakness of your first campaign before suiting up again.

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In the end, unless you are cranking out extremely high quality content at a breakneck pace or are a naturally dazzling public face of the brand (and let’s face it, we can’t all be Tony Hsieh), your brand might not be able to engage people the way you really want to. Social media promotions are a great way to obtain a larger audience base on which to build your brand and maybe pocket some extra cash while you’re at it.
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HOW TO: Land a Job at Facebook

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So you want to work at Facebook, one of the world’s hottest companies — what do you have to get your foot in the door and get noticed?

It’s not going to be easy — you have competition. Facebook received 250,000 job applications last year and is consistently rated as one of the best places to work. And with Facebook’s IPO around the corner, the competition for jobs is only going to heat up.

There are plenty of ways to get noticed and stand above the crowd, though. I chatted with Thomas Arnold, head of recruiting for the social network, on what the company looks for and what it takes to get a job at Facebook.

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What Jobs Are Available at Facebook?

Photo: Facebook HQ in 2009 at the launch of Facebook Usernames

Ever since Facebook announced it was moving to a bigger office and raised $2 billion in funding, it has been ramping up its hiring.

While there are many openings in legal, communications, HR, marketing, online operations, business development, IT, design, user experience and internationalization, the company is especially looking for technical talent, especially software engineers and product managers.

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The Facebook Interview Process

I actually went through the entire Facebook interview process in 2008, before I joined Mashable as an associate editor. And while it’s definitely changed since I applied for a job on the company’s User Operations team, the basic format has remained the same.

The first step is almost always a recruiter phone-screening — Facebook will begin exploring your resume, asking you about your previous work, especially about what you’ve built and what leadership roles you’ve had in the past. Sometimes there’s a second screening, depending on the role.

If you pass the screening, the company will fly you out to its Silicon Valley headquarters for a series of on-site interviews with the hiring manager (your potential future boss) and a group of your peers — in other words, you will be interviewed by the members of the team you’re hoping to join. As Arnold explained to me, these interviews are designed to determine whether you have the skills for the job and whether you’re a cultural fit. The group then makes “a collective decision on whether you’re a great fit” for the position.

The process itself greatly varies from group to group — expect more technical skill challenges if you’re applying for an engineering job. Oh, and one extra piece of advice from me: Always put the user first in any scenario or interview question.

Standing Apart From the Crowd

With more than a quarter of a million applicants, how does Facebook whittle down the applicant pool?

“We’re primarily looking for builders,” Arnold says. He explains that Facebook has an entrepreneurial spirit and is a flat organization, and thus it’s looking for people who can thrive in that environment. Employees need to be self-starters who don’t need a lot of direction, so autonomy and self-motivation are highly valued.

Builders — especially engineers who like to build projects on their own and have cool, working products or apps they can show off — are sought after by the Facebook team. If someone builds a unique application and/or solves a problem in a way that hasn’t been done before, he’s going to get Facebook’s attention.

Strong applicants to Facebook also “just get the social space,” Arnold says. They not only understand the product, but can see the company’s vision. Even more important is that they’re active users of the product. This may seem like a no-brainer, but Arnold says his team finds a lot of applicants who haven’t used their Facebook accounts in weeks or even months. And that is a very clear sign to Facebook that the person won’t be a good fit.

Finally, it’s very helpful to know someone at Facebook who can vouch for you — this was true even when I interviewed with the social network three years ago. While I got special consideration due to my unique history with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, I still had a Facebook reference.

Final Thoughts

While I ultimately failed to secure a job at Facebook, you don’t have to let that be the case for you. For those of you applying to non-technical roles, be sure you’re active users, understand the company culture and have a resume filled with leadership and “builder” activities. It’s more impressive if you launched an organization or product than if you simply took it over.

For technical talent, the best thing you can do is build something. If you build a really impressive iPhoneapplication that gains some traction, you’re going to get noticed. If you are a major contributor of open sourcecode to various projects, you’re going to get noticed.

In the end though, the big filter is cultural fit. There isn’t really much you can do to prepare for that — the Facebook team simply knows if you’re going to mesh well with them or if you’re not going to be able to keep up.

And as I said before, be sure to have an employee refer you. Otherwise, you’re going to have a really difficult time just getting the phone screening.

Have you gone through the interview process and landed a job at Facebook? Tell us in the comments below.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we put out a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we post a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!


More Job Search Resources from Mashable:

– Top 5 Tips for Creating Impressive Video Resumes
– Are Cover Letters Still Relevant For Social Media and Tech Jobs?
– HOW TO: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile’s New Skills Section
– Top 5 Online Communities for Starting Your Career
– HOW TO: Land a Business Development Job

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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Facebook, How to


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How Much Is a Facebook Fan Really Worth?

Lots of companies — more every day, it seems — want to have Facebook “fan” pages, where customers or would-be customers can connect with them and become part of their online community. But what are those fans actually worth to a company? Everyone has their own views on that question, but now a social media measurement firm called Syncapse has come up with an actual dollar value in a report released today (PDF link). The answer? An average fan is apparently worth about $136.38, although for some very successful social marketers the value can be dramatically higher, while for some less successful companies it can be virtually zero. Bargain Bin

Syncapse came up with the figure by asking 4,000 fans of 20 of the top brands on Facebook — including Nokia, BlackBerry, Victoria’s Secret, Adidas, Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonald’s — why they were fans of those companies or brands, and about their past and future purchasing behavior. Syncapse then tried to estimate what the value of each fan’s spending would be to a company, as well as the value of continuing to have that fan as a customer over time.

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The key findings of the report are likely to come as music to the ears of advertisers that have been pursuing a Facebook-based social media strategy. According to the survey:

  • On average, fans spend an extra $71.84 they would not otherwise spend on products they describe themselves as fans of, compared to those who are not fans.
  • Fans are 28 percent more likely than non-fans to continue using a specific brand.
  • Fans are 41 percent more likely than non-fans to recommend a product they are a fan of to their friends.

That probably helps to explain why, according to recent statement by the company, the number of advertisers working with Facebook has doubled in the past year. But Syncapse also said that its results showed how the value of a fan can vary widely:

An average fan may participate with a brand ten times a year and will make one recommendation. But an active fan may participate thirty times and make ten recommendations. The impact this has on fan value is quite dramatic. In the case of Coca- Cola, the best case for fan value reaches $316.78 but is $137.84 for an average fan. In the worse case scenario, a fan is worth $0.

As the chart below shows, fans of McDonald’s spent, on average, more than $300 on the company’s products, while non-fans spent just half that amount. Fans of Starbucks also spent more than twice as much as non-fans.

Facebook Fans

How much are your Facebook fans worth?

Some might argue that these conclusions aren’t exactly rocket science — after all, one would assume that if someone goes to the trouble of becoming a fan of a product on Facebook, that person would be enough of a supporter of the brand that they would buy it more often, recommend it to their friends and so on. And Syncapse’s results may also not be 100 percent reliable if extended to the entire universe of 500 million Facebook users, since a few thousand users is a relatively small sample. But it’s still interesting to see someone try to put an actual dollar figure on the value of a Facebook friend.
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The part of the domain name located to the left of the dot — “godaddy,” in this case — is called the second-level domain (SLD) name. The second-level domain name is the “readable” part of the address and refers to the organization or entity behind the Internet address. Second-level domain names must be registered with an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)-accredited registrar.

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The Google Loophole Has Become The Facebook/Twitter Loophole

Google News Archive

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There are a lot of interesting angles to the news this morning about The New York Times’ new paywall. Top news will remain free, a set number of articles for all users will remain free, there will be different pricing tiers for different devices, NYT is fine with giving Apple a 30 percent cut, etc, etc. But to me, the most interesting aspect is only mentioned brieflyabout halfway down the NYT announcement article: all those who come to the New York Times via Facebook or Twitter will be allowed to read for free. There will be no limit to this.

Up until now, we’ve seen paywall enthusiasts like The Wall Street Journal offer such loopholes. But they’ve done so via Google. It’s a trick that most web-savvy news consumers know. Is a WSJ article behind a paywall? Just Google the title of it. Click on the resulting link and boom, free access to the entire thing. No questions asked. This new NYT model is taking that idea and flipping it.

The Google loophole will still be in play — but only for five articles a day. It’s not clear how they’re going to monitor this (cookies? logins?), but let’s assume for now that somehow they’ll be able to in an effective way. For most readers, the five article limit will likely be more than enough. But that’s not the important thing. What’s interesting is that the NYT appears to be saying two things. First, this action says that spreading virally on social networks like Twitter and Facebook is more important to them than the resulting traffic from Google. And second, this is a strategic bet that they likely believe will result in the most vocal people on the web being less pissed off.

Paywalls are not easy. For proof, look at well, just about every site that has ever tried to implement one. The barrier is always met with huge backlash. But much of that backlash often comes from the savvy readers who had been used to getting at the content for free on the web. NYT seems to be betting here that these users are the same ones that now rely on Twitter and Facebook for their news discovery. And they will be unaffected.

Is that the right bet? Maybe, or maybe not. Facebook has around 600 million users now. Twitter has another 150 million plus. These are mainstream services that extend far beyond the early adopters. But even if this move goes beyond the vocal users and into the mainstream population that might otherwise be willing to pay, at the very least, it will still mean less overall backlash.

And it’s yet another sign of a changing of the guard on the web from Google to Facebook and Twitter. It will arguably be easier to find all the NYT content for free via Twitter search than it was via Google search. At the very least, it will be more obvious. And the social filters of Twitter and Facebook will have people sharing only the best articles that you’re likely going to want to read anyway.

Meanwhile, the other side of the bet is that those coming in from Google are probably more likely to pay if asked nicely every once in a while. You know, the more mainstream and perhaps slightly older and less tech-savvy audience. The people who may actually pay.

The main point? If you’re reading this post, you’re unlikely to be affected by the NYT paywall because you probably came here from Facebook or Twitter — the two key players in the new social loophole.



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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Facebook, Google, Twitter


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How Facebook Supported the Egyptian Revolution

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Officially, Facebook has remained mum on its role in the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, which grew into full-on revolutions. But this week, reports have surfaced that reveal a somewhat active involvement in the events and outline Facebook’s support of democracy and civic engagement.

Facebook reportedly worked to protect the identity of Egyptian activists, according to The Daily Beast. The news site claims to have obtained e-mail correspondence from Facebook executives and the administrators of the Facebook Page that was the revolution’s digital epicenter — the We Are All Khaled Said Page, which was created in memory of an Egyptian man murdered last summer by police.

The Page mysteriously disappeared as activists prepared to substantiate what would likely be rigged elections in November of last year. It turned out someone had likely notified Facebook that the Page administrator was using a pseudonym, a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

Facebook stuck to its policy, but Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of policy for Europe, offered a loophole.

“There is no discretion here as the creation of fake accounts threatens the integrity of our whole system,” he wrote. “People must use the profile of a real person to admin the page or risk it being taken down at any time. It is not important to us who that real person is as long as their account appears genuine. So if they can offer a real person as admin then the page can be restored.”

An Egyptian immigrant and activist in Washington, D.C., lent her account password to Wael Ghonim in Egypt, who continued to run the page.

The Daily Beast‘s e-mails reveal that the social network put the key Facebook Pages under protection, the night the protests in Egypt began in late January.

“We have put all the key pages into special protection,” Allan wrote. A team, he said, “is monitoring activity from Egypt now on a 24/7 basis.”

Promoting Democracy & Civic Engagement

In a document filed January 28 with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission — in response to the FTC’s privacy report for consumers, businesses and policymaker — Facebook expounded its role and the greater role of social media in promoting democracy and civic engagement.

“The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University cited Facebook and Twitter as playing key roles in spreading dissent-and up-to-the-minute news-in Tunisia, leading to the removal of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who gained control of the country in a 1987 coup d’etat,” the 26-page document states.

A footnote to that statement also provides an interesting perspective. Referencing the Atlantic article in which that fact appeared, the footnote says the article “…describ[es] Facebook’s rapid response to attempts by the Tunisian Internet censor to compromise dissenters’ Facebook accounts.”

Twitter executives, on the other hand, have spoken publicly about the micro-blogging site’s role in Egypt, mostly downplaying its role in the revolution. And when the Egyptian government blocked the site, its creators declared that the government must let the tweets flow.

Until now, Facebook’s role and perspective on the events in Egypt and Africa were unknown, and although the company has still not openly commented — neither to Mashable nor The Daily Beast — we now have a little greater understanding of the role it played and its stance on the events in the Middle East and Africa.

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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Facebook, How to


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