Category: Web2.0

Gov2.0

We posted a while back about Boston’s use of Citizens Connect iPhone app, but CNN picked up a story today as front page online, and Boston is just one of numerous cities using the technology. In New York, San Francisco, Washington, and who knows where else, citizens can contact city hall about non-urgent matters of public works upkeep.

This is more than just an inventive way of applying technology to routine tasks. This puts governance in the hands of the people. Instead of shaking our heads with downcast eyes as we pass newly painted graffiti, we now have the power to alert the correct department and reclaim the upkeep of our cities.

Local governments have posted sets of data for the use of developers, because, as CNN’s article says, “tech communities are better able to make government data useful than the governments themselves, said Peter Corbett, CEO for iStrategyLabs and organizer of a contest called “Apps for Democracy” in Washington.”

DWIii-ted on Twitter!

Montgomery Texas is getting ready to name drunk drivers on Twitter! Name ‘em & shame ‘em! This is just one more way local municipalities are using Twitter for public administration at the civic level. I love it. Twitter account @MontgomeryTXDAO will post names of people arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated) in an effort to persuade people to find a designated driver.

Apparently there’s some controversy about it – lawyers tell us that it isn’t right to publicize a DWI offender until he’s had his day in court. But as for me, I’m happy with any plan that keeps me and my kids a little safer on the road.

Tweet DWI

Is social media a fad?

If you think this is a fleeting fad, check out the stats in this video and be impressed.

Citizens Connect in Boston

citizens-connectThe City of Boston has announced a seriously intuitive operational use of social media through an iPhone app that allows the residents and visitors to alert the public works department of annoyances like graffiti, potholes, streetlights out, and such.

It’s simple – snap a picture of a pothole or graffiti, and on your GPS-enabled iPhone will alert the correct department to conduct the repairs – all the way down to the guy on duty. That’s operational effectiveness. NPR’s coverage will give you all the details of it, and it’s really cool.

How about you? Have any really intuitive ways to use social media for operational effectiveness?

Twitter vs. YouTube

Yesterday’s article at Fast Company comparing 2009 trends between Twitter and YouTube went so far as to call YouTube frivolous. I’d have to accede¬† the vast majority of the content on YouTube is, in fact, pretty frivolous, but there are other gems of a more serious nature – lectures, seminar videos, and the not-so-occasional soap-box crusader.

Twitter, as Fast Company calls it, does ‘life-casting,’ which apparently is less frivolous. The most engaging topic on Twitter in 2009 was the Iranian elections and backlash from them. Not altogether surprisingly, Iran is missing from the top searches at YouTube. It would seem that even though there are plenty of users on the frivolous side of Twitter, there are also a lot of people using microblogging to accomplish some wicked serious stuff.

Twitter-YouTube

Harnessing the power of Social Media

As blogging gradually eases its way to becoming an somewhat acceptable mode of journalism, PR agencies are taking note (finally, I might add). A great article over at AdWeek details how some of the greats of the advertising world are harnessing the power of social media. It seems that word of mouth is merging into word of QWERTY, albeit not so spontaneously.

I love the idea of going beyond banner ads into more ‘authentic’ media, but there’s a part of me that finds sponsored posts somewhat despicable. Granted, I’m one of those old-school bloggers, tied to the archaic ideas of authenticity and validity. Maybe if I were doing this for personal gain or a get rich quick scheme I’d be more receptive to someone paying me money to say they made the best widget in Widget-world. Maybe I missed the bandwagon. Am I the only one who reads a blog post giving a stellar review of an appliance, or a book, or the newfangled shiny cog in the machine and instantly recognizes it as fluff?

Sure! I love the idea of marketing peeps and advertisers jumping on the social media bandwagon. But I also think a level of authenticity is called for and sponsoring posts is the digital equivalent to infomercials or those annoying “paid advertising sections” of the magazine that look just like regular pages, only they’re poorly laid out and filled with… fluff (and small print whispering that it’s inauthentic).

Call it old school. Call it naive. But a good friend of mine once said “The truth is your best tool.” (Thanks, Jerry, from the The Change.) Jerry was right. I want agencies to clue in and ride the social media wave. But I want them to do it for real – not with astroturf but with the truth – the kind you can stand on when the rains come.

Social Media Myths

Joel Postman had a great article debunking social media myths. He tackles 5 social media myths that are pretty important overall, and comes to the following conclusions:

1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Contrary to what some think, Twitter is not replacing email. Don’t jump to conclusions – the use of email may be in decline in some spheres, and its role may be in flux, but email is still a trusted form of communication.

2. The CEO has better things to do than blog. And yes, that’s the way it should be. While blogs can play an important role in a company’s PR and marketing strategy, they are not part of a CEO job description.

3. Age demographics in social media are dynamic. Facebook is greying, LinkedIn is getting younger, MySpace is getting younger too, and Twitter remarkably tends to remain the same. Don’t lump all social media into one category, and if your business is trying to use social media strategically, you may need to turn to a professional social media consultant for their mind-blowing guru skills in navigating the waters.

4. In social media, what you type matters. The use of emoticons (smiley faces ;) and such), spelling, grammar – it all reflects on you. And frankly, it takes a special kind of skill to convey meaning in 140 characters or less. Tight writing, imagination, and attention to detail are important.

5. Social media campaigns aren’t always ‘viral.’ In fact, they often aren’t viral. If you’re looking to start a viral campaign, try some spontaneity, mix it with a bit of amateurism, add a healthy dose of authenticity and you’re well on your way to making an admirable effort towards viral. Social media may well be the medium you use to deliver it, but registering a Twitter account and posting weekly isn’t going to do it for you.

Tweeting for good

Mashable, our premier source for all things social media, posted a great article recently about the benefits of social media, specifically for corporate social responsibility.

They point to some leaders in the social media sphere, like Seventh Generation, who uses Twitter to engage their fans in lobbying against the use of harmful chemicals, and Nike, who uses social media to boost employee morale. It seems that social media helps companies remain actively engaged with their target audience, spread the good news about their initiatives and products, and boost brand loyalty.

Executives on social media

Letter to mom

Dear Mom,
Contrary to what you might believe, technology is not bad for my health. I am not well on my way to becoming a hermit, and even though my job doesn’t include the multifaceted pleasures of spending countless hours in my car traveling from here to nowhere and back again, nor does it afford me the highly tactile and satisfying work of knuckle-callousing elbow grease, I am not going to become better friends with my computer than with real people.

Love, me

A study was released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that tells us that Social Media is just that – social. New technologies are changing the landscape of the internet and, contrary to what many believe, online activity is not going turn us all into anti-social hermits. Thank you to the Pew Internet and American Life Project for allaying my mother’s concerns. Of course, she won’t be reading this, since she’s out drinking tea with her friends (separated from both her computer and her cell phone, of course).

Credit: HubSpot

Freelancer's best friend

Hat tip to Mitch at Six Degrees of Separation for his post on Social Media as threatening to freelance writers. He rounds it out nicely, giving some tips to freelancers about how to use social media to their favor. There’s an interesting dialogue out there with more than a handful of writers out there expressing elitist claims about how blogging has given even the least savvy writers access to readership.

Between blogs, wikis, and social media groups, anyone can have their say and the average reader has to sort through it to figure out what is fact and what is fiction (which is precisely why rumors float around about Obama being a radical muslim, Senate bills making gun ownership illegal, and hoaxes about non-existent crimes).

At the same time, social media is earth shattering in three very distinct ways:

  1. Open source digital media plays into the hand of the truly knowledgeable. It sets apart the experts in the field from the fake-it-till-you-make-it crowd. In the same way the Linux and open source software leveled the playing field for the “little guy” who wouldn’t have a chance against Microsoft’s Goliath, so social media opens up the playing field for the freelancers who really do have something original to offer. Of course, that doesn’t help a whit for the guy sitting on his couch watching daytime TV thinking freelancing may save him from ever having to do ‘real’ work.
  2. Socia media opens up the world of collaboration beyond what it would traditionally be. If I want to start a microfund in Zimbabwe I can find instant connections to people on the ground. If I want to read stellar short fiction about pet owners (riveting, right?), I can do that too. If I want to learn what’s on the mind of women in Iran, that’s online too. That means I can find the information I need, but it also means I can find the inspiration I want, and gain perspective from people around the world.
  3. I can be an expert. It doesn’t matter if my expertise is in Shostakovich’s influence on Russian socialist realism in the late 1930s or the Calivistic roots of the Industrial Revolution. I can be an expert and interact with other experts. I can prove my worth to would-be employers and run with the big dogs – if I can keep up with their research. A little time, some google-savvy-ness, and a few tidbits of SEO tools can keep me (or you) at the front of the pack.

I can see why social media might be threatening to some freelancers – it separates the wheat from the chaff. But assuming I’m whole grain, social media is the best way for me to promote myself. That goes for companies too – social media is the stomping ground where we find out what’s at our core. Social media has a knack for placing entities – individuals or companies – right where they belong. So how about you? Are you whole grain? Or chaff blown away by the wind? Or have you even made your way to the threshing floor?

Image Credit: Sandman1973
Image Credit: Sandman1973

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