Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social media 'bubble' about to burst?

Interesting debate during this morning's monthly meeting of Social Media Charlotte, the networking group where marketers, new media folks and anyone interested in Web 2.0 kibitz over coffee. I was intrigued by one of the questions put up for debate: Is the social media bubble about to burst? Adam Holden-Bache of the Mass Transmit internet marketing firm and ad-man Jim Mitchem of Boxman Studios said yes, and noted Goldman Sachs recent buy-in deal with Facebook that valued the network at $50 billion. They drew an analogy to the bursting of the dot-com bubble a decade ago. "At some point," Holden-Bache said, "this is going to have to correct itself."

No way, said Lisa Hoffman, a social media specialist with Duke Energy, and Lyell Petersen, internet marketing director with They suggested the social networking fever might be leveling off, but social networks aren't an industry (i.e., subject to boom and bust cycles). They're a means of communication. Weaker social networking companies might wither, but the media form is here to stay.

The presenters, in keeping with the format for the event, took their positions purely for debating purposes, and didn't necessarily subscribe to their assigned stances in real life. (Note to organizers: more debates please!). Still, given all the light and heat surrounding social networks, they raised a very interesting question. I tend to think there's no real bubble-bursting to come, aside from the normal rise and fall of markets and companies. Once they gain traction, mass media formats don't ever seem to go away. I'm pretty sure even newspapers, for all the hand-wringing over their decline, will still be around 50 years from now. Social media's not going anywhere, either.

What do you think? Do you expect you'll still be Facebooking 20 years from now?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Facebook e-mail coming soon

The much-ballyhooed new Facebook e-mail system is about to hit your page, according to an item posted on the social network's blog today. Facebook began letting people sign up in November, but the full rollout to everyone on the network will be coming in the next few weeks.

In announcing the new system last year, the Zuckster said he thinks e-mail is going the way of the dinosaur. This new system, complete with addresses, marks Facebook's attempt to define the next generation of digital messaging. Instead of today's fragmented system in which people use cellphone texts, instant messaging chats and three personal e-mail addresses (that would be me), Facebook's new system threads all those messages through its single portal. One messaging system to rule them all.

It all looks a lot like an e-mail killer, but Facebook keeps protesting that this isn't e-mail. "There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key," according to the company's blog. "We modeled it more closely to chat ... We wanted to make this more like a conversation."

There's much to like about the concept. Who wouldn't want to be able to sit at your home computer and strike up a real-time conversation with a friend riding the bus home from work? We'll have to see how it actually works and if there are bugs in it, as there often seems to be with new Facebook changes. Convenience aside, I sort of like not having all my messaging dependent on one provider. And after all, the average smartphone threads all of your messages into one viewing screen, anyway. Is Facebook offering a convenience nobody really asked for?

What do you think? If you've been using it already, do you like it?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick Facebook fix could save you from hackers

I'd be the first one to say Facebook's privacy and security settings are far too maze-like and complex. So when I heard about this quick and easy change I could make to my settings that could potentially save me from hackers, I jumped on it. (Or as the smarmy Russian millionaire in my favorite Direct TV commercial would put it, "I jump in it."). Basically, it's a change that lets you access Facebook using the same kind of secure "https" setting as you get when you access your banking account and the little lock symbol appears at the bottom of the screen. If you're going onto Facebook via a public connection at a bookstore or coffee shop, hackers can't get to your account.

Just go to "Account" in the upper right corner of your Facebook page, then "Account Settings," then "Account Security." Put a check mark on the dialogue box that asks if you want to use a secure connection whenever possible. You'll also see below it a notification telling you where your account was last accessed from, and what kind of browser and operating systems were used to do it. If you see a location that doesn't look like yours, follow Facebook's advice and click "end activity." (Mine was accessed yesterday from Greensboro, it says. I wasn't in Greensboro yesterday. Not sure if that could be some sort of server or internet service provider weirdness, or if some sleazeball's cruising around my account. But I clicked end activity, and asked to be notified anytime a new computer accesses my account. You should do the same).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Verizon's iPhone D-Day arrives

If you're one of the many long-suffering Verizon customers who have been lusting for the iPhone, your big day is finally here. Almost. At 3 a.m. Thursday, Verizon folks will be able to go online and pre-order Apple's game-changing smartphone. Is it really necessary to wake up that time of night to make sure you get yours? Who knows. But given the mass hysteria that typically comes standard with iPhone releases, you'd better set the alarm if you absolutely must have one before they go on sale at stores for the general public (read: network switchers) on Feb. 10.

I'm on Verizon. And I'm considering the iPhone. I've heard some folks say it makes no sense to get one now, since given Apple's history, a new iPhone is likely on the way this summer. Others say don't even bother with the iPhone. Wait for the 4G bad-boys coming out on Verizon, like the HTC Thunderbolt and the Droid Bionic. Decisions, decisions. (Here's a good Q&A on the quandary from CNET). I think I'm going to wait, if only to see what the 4G phones have to say about all this. Some say there are clues the wait might not be that long.

What do you think? Are you getting up at 3 a.m. to order the iPhone? Or are you waiting for the 4G phones or the next iPhone?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michael Jackson clone struts his stuff at Bobcats game

If you've ever been to a professional sports event of any type, you know what happens when they crank up a "fan-cam" segment during a break in the action. The cameras rove around the audience, showing people's pictures on the Jumbotron as they dance, kiss or do whatever the prompt of the moment might be. Most people just look goofy. But every once in a while, somebody wows the crowd with some display of raw charm or talent. Like this kid at a Bobcats game, doing the best Michael Jackson routine I've seen in a while. (You've gotta wait until near the end, but he's worth the wait). The guys at CLTblog were wondering who this kid is. So am I after watching him in action. Anybody know who this is??