Facebook in USA Today

Facebook in USA Today
Many in the mainstream media have written articles recently about Facebook that are helping to make it, well…mainstream. Both Newsweek and TIME have had major articles in the last couple of weeks, and here are excerpts from a couple more stories about Facebook in USA Today from the last few days. Click the title links to read the whole articles.

Travelers arrive at Facebook

Since opening its virtual doors last fall to anyone with an e-mail address, Facebook has graduated to more than 37 million users, and the 25-and-over crowd is its fastest-growing demographic.

A key factor in the site’s rapid ascent: development of more than 3,000 free, third-party software applications that let Facebook “friends” trade everything from travel tips, Scrabble scores and books they’re reading to hedge fund advice via a fantasy stock exchange.

The most popular of Facebook’s 100-odd travel applications, downloaded by more than 2.6 million members since its launch by a freelance Web developer in June, is Where I’ve Been — a map that highlights places users have been to, lived in and hope to visit. The interactive map includes a smattering of facts for each destination.

Facebook plans to offer targeted ads

Social-networking site Facebook is ramping up efforts on a major new advertising plan that would let marketers tailor ads for the millions of Facebook customers who provide a mountain of information about themselves on the site, according to major advertisers and analysts briefed on the system.

But the potential volume of ads, and their proximity to the personal content of customers, could stir privacy concerns, say tech and advertising analysts.

Facebook’s new format may display more prominent ads on the news feed — a list of updates on the activities of a user’s Facebook friends, according to those briefed on the new system. Facebook ads also currently appear as banners on the left-hand and bottom borders of Facebook pages.

Eventually, Facebook hopes to refine the system to deliver ads based on users’ interests, says Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst at market researcher eMarketer.

Obviously, Facebook has to walk a fine line. If it does this right, it will be seen as a service, helping people find goods and services that interest them. It reminds me of David’s Bridal and its arrangements with various vendors that provide special offers to its wedding-dress customers. The feedback I heard at a recent seminar was that brides-who-had-been were thankful to David’s for “all the bonus goodies you get when you buy your wedding dress there.”

If Facebook does the advertising tastefully, in keeping with its current understated approach, it can create similar feelings among its users. It will be much better if it can grow its page views and time spent, with a light sprinkling of ads, instead of killing the golden goose with a heavy-handed mix. Better to triple the user base in the next year (which is not at all out of the question based on current growth trends) with the same advertising level than to ratchet up the advertising and slow the growth.
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When Labor Day almost WAS “Labor” Day

A personal note as I wind up the month and prepare to unplug from the grid for a few days.

Sixteen years ago today my youngest daughter, Ruth, was born. That’s why I took the day off from work, and look forward to a four-day weekend, including Labor Day. Ruthie arrived three weeks early, and 50 weeks after her sister, Rebekah. So, for the next two weeks, I have two Sweet 16 daughters. Here they are on either side of their older sister, Rachel, at her wedding last December:

labor day

When my wife Lisa was pregnant with either Rebekah or Ruth (I can’t remember which), I told her that maybe this year Labor Day really would be “Labor” day. She didn’t think that was particularly funny.
With one born on August 31 and the other September 14, we also have the unusual and maybe even unique distinction of having two daughters, not twins, in the same class in school. Others have kids who are the same age for a few weeks each year, but Ruthie beat the September 1 deadline to join Rebekah in the Class of 2009 by three hours.

Lisa and I are thankful for the blessings we have in these girls and their four siblings (two older and two younger), and look forward to a great, long weekend with family and friends.

Labor Day blessings to you all.

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Blogs for PR Clip Reporting

Blogs for PR Clip Reporting

My previous post may have seemed a little off-topic, because it was essentially a recap of some coverage of a news release, with links to several of the stories. In reality, it was a concrete example of this PR tip, how you can use blogs for PR clip reporting. This is another way you can use social media tools to accomplish business objectives more effectively than through last-generation tools like email.

In my work with the National Media Relations and New Media team at Mayo Clinic, we regularly distribute news releases about findings of Mayo Clinic’s researchers as they appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Examples of these are general medical journals like Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine or Mayo Clinic Proceedings, basic science-oriented journals like Science, PNAS or Nature or others that are devoted to a particular medical specialty such as Circulation or Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

When we do a news release like this one on ovary removal and its correlation with an increased risk of dementia, we want to report results on the news coverage to the physicians and researchers involved, and to leaders of their department and staff members in our Department of Public Affairs.

Typically, if the story involves one major broadcast network or a newspaper like USA Today or the New York Times, we can just send an email with the link to the story. In this case, because of the extent of coverage, that would have been unwieldy.
When we get extraordinary response, we’re starting to use a blog on our intranet to communicate with our key internal groups. We can have links to some of the key stories, and can compile them all in one place to make it convenient for people who are interested to get a feel for the nature and extent of coverage. It also gives them a single link to a blog post that they can copy and paste into an email message to share with colleagues.

We have some key external groups we want to keep informed about the news, too. Unfortunately, because they don’t have access behind our IT firewall, they can’t get to our internal blog. So, here’s an external version of what we placed on our internal blog, which highlights some of the exceptional news coverage Dr. Walter Rocca’s study in Neurology received.

A blog is not an efficient way to produce a comprehensive PR clip report; other services are better for that. And it only works for summarizing on-line coverage. But to quickly do a “show and tell” report, sifting through and identifying key coverage and adding commentary and context, a blog is hard to beat. For this time I just assembled the highlights in my personal blog; we may want to consider developing an external blog for this purpose. It wouldn’t be hard, or expensive, to do.

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Mayo Clinic Study In Neurology

Here are links to some of the most prominent stories done in the last 24 hours on this research study on ovary removal and risk of neurologic conditions, which was led by Dr. Walter Rocca, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic:

TIME magazine

Here is the Associated Press story as it appears in the Washington Post and in USA Today.

Yahoo News has a video of the NBC News Channel story, which ran not only throughout the U.S. but also, as you will see, in Australia.

A story on the Ivanhoe newswire

The HealthDay newswire story as it appears on Forbes.com

The Bloomberg News wire story

The BBC News story

The Reuters Health news story

Here is the ScienceDaily story, which was adapted from the news release.

This is just a sampling; Google News currently shows 167 total articles. But it does reflect some of the breadth of coverage this study received.

Mayo Clinic Study in Neurology

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Facebook: A Series of Tubes?

TIME magazine’s recent article – “Why Facebook is the Future” – contains this excellent synoposis of what Facebook really is:

Facebook’s appeal is both obvious and rather subtle. It’s a website, but in a sense, it’s another version of the Internet itself: a Net within the Net, one that’s everything the larger Net is not.

And so, with that description of Facebook as “a Net within the Net,” we can’t help but refer to Sen. Ted Stevens’ definition of the internet as a whole to help us better understand what Facebook is:


Sen. Stevens’ speech was repeatedly ridiculed on The Daily Show and elsewhere by those  who thought it demonstrated a, well… less-than-complete understanding of the internet and how it works.Yet some of the chatter about Facebook and its suitability for business use doesn’t sound much more enlightened than either Sen. Stevens or Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, and her explanation of why U.S. students don’t know much about geography…

Using Facebook for business won’t “plug up the tubes” and get in the way of the personal messages you want to deliver. It’s also not just for college students; the 35+ age demographic is the fastest growing segment among its 35+ million members.

Sure, many of the applications developed for its platform are pointless diversions, but there are some quite useful ones. For example, file sharing applications like Files and MediaFire provide shared virtual hard drives for file exchange. I’ll be reviewing those in a future post. Both provide handy work-arounds to the file size limits most people have in their email, and without the complicated language of ftp servers.
Others have raised the red flags – or red herrings – of inappropriately personal applications causing embarrassment. For example, a SuperPoke user might inadvertenly slap, bite, kick or pinch a business colleague instead of poking.

Egads! The solution to that would be, “Don’t slap, bite, kick or pinch your professional associates.” Or don’t install SuperPoke. Or why would you poke a co-worker when you could send a message instead?

Others suggest that personal photos posted by others, which appear on your Wall or in your mini-feed, could be embarrassing. Those situations can be substantially resolved by adjusting your privacy settings for your limited profile and not showing your Wall or mini-feed to your professional colleagues.

For some people who wouldn’t think of using Facebook for business, the language I just used is foreign; that’s because they haven’t tried Facebook, and so they are making judgments based on rumor and hearsay instead of personal experience.

Facebook is an information-sharing utility. It works well for personal, diversionary pursuits, and it works equally well for sharing information and creating discussions of professional topics.

Just as the same internet “tubes” carry personal and business emails — and even 10 movies at one time — so can the same Facebook infrastructure facilitate maintenance of personal and business relationships without getting things “tangled up.”

And there are even some map applications that could help Miss Upton.

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