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Social Media and Crime – Part 2

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

On Monday I discussed a horrific murder and robbery that took place in 2006.  It was a classified ad that put the victim together with his killers.

Since then, Craigslist has taken classifieds to a new level.  It’s free and easy to sell something.  Equally easy is profiling and stalking someone. 

Craigslist has been considered one of the biggest prostitution aggregators, but it’s also an aggregator of different types of crimes…violent crimes.

Taken from probable cause statements of current cases, let me tell you a tale of two recent crimes that happened right here in Salt Lake.  Since these cases are still pending, I won’t be naming names.  All defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

Case one involves a personal ad placed on Craigslist.  After exchanging emails, these two potential lovers met in person.  After a little small talk, they went back to the victim’s apartment.  Once there, the “date” put the the victim in a choke hold and knocked him out.  Then he took off with the victim’s wallet which was found discarded a few blocks away.

Of course, the email exchanges and eyewitness landed the assailant in jail.

Case two was a lot more brazen.  The victim went to meet someone who answered his Craigslist ad.  (Don’t know what for.)  When he arrived at the meeting place, the assailant got in the victim’s car and pointed a gun in his face.  He took the victim’s phone and wallet and demanded money.  When the victim explained he didn’t have any more on him, the gunman demanded the victim drive back to the victim’s house to get more. 

On the way to the victim’s house, a police car was parked on the side of the road and the victim clipped it to attract the officer’s attention.  When the victim stopped the car, the gunman jumped out and was later apprehended.

Both of these are serious crimes, with Craigslist being the common factor between victim and assailant.

Again, for safety, meeting in a public place is always a good idea.  Inviting strangers into your home usually isn’t.

I’ve talked about the dark side of social media and crime.  On Friday, I’ll discuss the social media methods law enforcement is using to fight crime and increase public safety.

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Social Media and Crime – Part 1

March 29, 2010 4 comments

A few months ago I wrote an article about social media giving regular folks a sense of being a celebrity.  We update our Facebook accounts with information about where we are or what we’re doing.  With the emergence of Foursquare, It’s even easier to “overshare.”

Kyle Power even told me about a website that takes the data from Foursquare as an API and publishes it to their site called pleaserobme.com.  It’s been getting quite a bit of attention lately too.

It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the Internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.”

With these concerns in mind, I thought I’d do a series this week on social media as a tool for criminals and law enforcement.  As an introduction, I’d like to share the story of Steven Poulos who was trying to sell a 1997 Subaru a few years ago.  I don’t know if the classified ad he used was on Craigslist or KSL.com, but the fact is an ad was placed and it was answered by a young couple. 

After a few phone calls to Mr. Poulos, the couple headed over to his Holladay home to see the car.  Alicia Wingate and Aaron Millenson arrived at the home in a cab and wound up taking the car.  They also took Mr. Poulos’ life.  This was a scary wake-up call to anybody that places classifieds ads…online or not.

The story took an even more tragic turn when the two suspects engaged in a shoot out with police in Kansas.  Both suspects were killed.  I’m not suggesting everyone who answers a classified ad is a sociopathic murderer, but that we need to take steps to protect ourselves and our property. 

Meeting in a public place is always a good idea, whether it’s a first date or a used car sale.  For a transaction that involves a large amount of cash, take someone with you.  Just the presence of a witness can dissuade a would be robber.

In Wednesday’s article, I’ll be talking about the real-life dangers of Craigslist.  Besides being known as an online prostitution clearinghouse, some people are using it to target potential victims.

Nestle Makes Butterfinger Move on Facebook

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Add Nestle to the growing list of big companies that have been embroiled in social media scandals.

In this situation, Nestle is taking heat for two things.  One involves environmental protestors and deforestation for the palm oil the chocolate maker uses to make its candy bars.  Not too big of a deal.  All businesses get complaints from time to time.

The other regards their policy of using their logo online.  In a heavy handed statement last week, the company announced on Facebook

Again, not so bad.  Even though the future of the web is “open source” old school brands like Nestle like to think they still have control of their logos and intellectual property.  One of the things I love about Facebook and Twitter is they let people create with their logos.  Is it any wonder they’re growing as fast as they are?  Google is also creative with their logo by having their home page image changed for holidays and events.

The true sin Nestle is guilty of is how they actually responded to criticism.  Besides deleting comments they didn’t like, they were snippy in responses.  Again this article captured the mistake –

One company that stands out to me for handling criticism is Sears.  Last year a franchise store driver accidently ran over a dog during a delivery.  Though the franchise owner did nothing, once Sears corporate heard about the problem, they took care of it.

As a business, you can’t bend over backwards to every extreme demand, but you can recognize that you listened.  That was the lesson from Sears and the squished pup.  Nestle’s social media people are listening and fighting back.  You can’t win fighting people online.  Don’t try.

The Nestle battle is still going on.  This Australian article claims 4,000 Australians have fanned Nestle’s page…to post negative comments.  It will be really interesting to see how this gets resolved, if at all.

CoolIris for Easy Flex Presentation

March 24, 2010 3 comments

Are you looking for a cool way to present videos or images?  Try CoolIris.  In the past, you’d have to hire an expensive Flex programmer to get an effect like this.  Now you just enter a few simple items and in three steps you’ve got a “flashy” presentation.

CoolIris works with YouTube and Flickr to deliver a live feed of your uploaded content.  Have you added more videos or photos?  CoolIris automatically updates without you having to change the code.

With the proper FBML, you can add your CoolIris video or photo feed to Facebook.  I’ve added my video feed to my Facebook fan page.  If you’re not a fan yet, it will automatically display.  Otherwise, search for the YouTube video tab on the main wall.  When you add the FBML, be sure to use the flash attribute, not the video attribute.

If you’re not so technically savvy, CoolIris will upload directly to a Facebook wall, but eventually it will move down in your history as you add more activities.

Thanks to Kevin Davis at Gurus for Hire for sharing this application.

Twitter Anywhere?

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Of the social media platforms, changes in Twitter have dominated the year 2010.  First we had Twitter connections showing up in search engines and on Monday, Twitter announced a new functionality called @anywhere.

Twitter anywhere allows web visitors to tweet the link to the page they’re on without having to leave the site.  It will be easy to add the new framework to any site just by pasting in some lines of javascript. 

When we’re ready to launch, initial participating sites will include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, and YouTube.

What this means for business is it just became a whole lot easier to talk about your product or service directly from your website.  Word of mouth marketing expert Andy Sernovitz preaches companies have to make it easy for their customers to talk about them.

It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

I keep talking to people about Twitter and they make statements like, “Isn’t Twitter a place celebrities tell you when they’re taking a dump?”  I kid you not. 

The simple action plan for anyone interested in Twitter is to go create an account.  If you’re a business, you’ll want to use your business name or selected keywords people find you by.  Unlike Facebook fan pages, Twitter only allows one user name.  That means limited real estate.

Once you’ve set up the account, search for your keywords and start following people who are talking about your industry.  You will learn.  Once you have a feel for it, you can implement tools like HootSuite and TwitJump to help manage and automate your tweets.

Twitter is changing the social media game and at a very fast pace.  Pay attention!

Can Social Media Really Destroy a Company?

March 15, 2010 3 comments

At the beginning of the year, I made a bold prediction that some major company would either destroy their image or completely go under because of social media.  It looks like I’m not too far off the mark.

The fact is, the numbers don’t lie.  There are more people on Facebook worldwide than the entire population of the United States.  In the U.S. one in three people have a Facebook account.  Those numbers simply can’t be ignored.

The president of CNN feels the same way and he’s scared to death.  Jonathan Klein stated at a recent conference, “The competition I’m really afraid of are social networking sites.  That’s an alternative that threatens to pull people away from us.”  Mr. Klein, it already has.  I first heard of Michael Jackson’s death from a message board I frequent.  They linked to a TMZ story.  While CNN was still awaiting confirmation and stating Jackson was in a coma, TMZ claimed he was dead.  It took several hours before CNN caught up with the “real” story.

Some people may question the journalistic integrity of a company like TMZ and others may question whether a rush to print for the sake of eyeballs is really in everybody’s best interest.  The fact is, the nature of journalism has changed.  I’ll be the first to admit we’re walking a fine line between accuracy and timeliness, but the fact remains, TMZ got the story right.

Personally, I can name off a number of newsworthy events I first heard of through social media.  Patrick Swayze’s death along with the Haiti earthquake all hit my social media radar before I read the news.  I don’t even read the news much any more unless some contact of mine gives me a reason to.

So what does this relate to a company going out of business?  My thesis is social media has the power to completely take out a clueless company…no matter how big.  Mr. Klein gives a lot of authority to social media as well.  The article concludes –

On a broader scale, Klein seems to be saying that social networks’ users can easily – even unwittingly – make or break major corporations.

It could go either way.  I think we’ll see amazing examples of both…this year.  Happy March!

Custom Search is Changing SEO

March 12, 2010 1 comment

I’m not sure it was a premonition, or a lucky guess, but I’ve shifted my business model to move from search engine optimization.  That seems like a strange statement from an avowed SEO guy, but the truth is, the rules of search are changing faster than anyone can keep track.

One day I’m doing a search for a keyword relevant to my business and my competition that I follow on Twitter shows up on the results.

Recently, tweets related to my keyword showed up in search results on Google.

If I perform the same search on Explorer, Firefox and my mobile phone’s browser, I get three different sets of search results.

Search has become personal and that creates a headache for SEO guys that think SEO is all about meta tags and inbound links.

Internet marketing is about findability and more than ever it means more than search.  It means local search through Google Maps and Yelp and Foursquare and social search through Twitter and Facebook and relationship search through LinkedIn and Facebook and every other tool we use to find what we want and need online.

At the beginning of this month Google introduced “stars,” a function that places your favorite search results at the top of what shows up for relevant search terms.  This should scare the crap out of any old school SEO.  SEO experts don’t control search results any more, people do.

For businesses and SEOs willing to adapt, the strategy needs to change from SERPs to influence or “findability.”  I can’t promise, suggest or command a front page listing from Google for my desired result, because somebody may use a filter to exclude it.

What I need to do as a web marketer is use every tool in my arsenal including Twitter, Facebook and other industry relevant social media platforms to create a profile that can be found.  More importantly, I need to be searching for the connectors in my target industry that will talk about me or my client’s business.

With social media, search has literally been turned on its head.

I really don’t mean to criticize my competition, but I’ve recently seen first hand how Yellow page turned web marketing businesses are using the old models of Internet search to pursue business.  I don’t blame them.  They really don’t know any better.  I really think tools like SEO and PPC are losing influence in the wake of social media.

Pay per click or PPC is a tool I’ve seen get drained in effectiveness.  Ten years ago, I could make a business using PPC.  Today, I can see businesses be broken by the same tool in the wrong hands.

As much as we’d all like to be able to apply the same solution to every marketing problem, to be successful, we have to be creative and be unique.  For example, I was recently presented with a client opportunity that I realized couldn’t be solved with social media.

The potential client’s target audience simply doesn’t use it.  Regardless, I can still use social media effectively by identifying who talks about the potential client’s services and connecting with them.  The effective “social” method may indeed be face to face.

In the last three months, I have literally seen a transformation in the online marketing space.  SEO and PPC have become questionable methods of increasing quality traffic and conversions.  A revolution in search marketing is underway.  Findability is more important than search engine results.

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