Foursquare vs. Facebook Places

Which do you prefer?

Although Facebook Places is in its infancy, it is definitely causing a stir in the social media world — especially for one of the leading location-based networks, Foursquare. Blogs everywhere are blowing up on this topic and many believe that Facebook Places will be the Foursquare killer once it becomes more developed. I don’t think anyone can accurately determine which will come out on top yet. Personally, I’m team Foursquare and though I love Facebook, I want to use Facebook for Facebook purposes, not location-based purposes. After the jump I point out the pros and cons of both Foursquare and Facebook Places and why I ultimately believe that Foursquare won’t be dying anytime soon.

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Did Facebook help Obama win the election?

Barack the Vote

The answer is yes. Among other things, Facebook played a part in Obama’s win. 

Obama utilized social networking and Web 2.0 applications much more than his competitors. For example, in one of my earlier posts on Second Life, I talked about how Obama campaigned on this popular video game. It also appears that Chris Hughes, one of the four founders of Facebook, was Obama’s “online organizing guru” for the campaign. The experience that Hughes has with social networking definitely gave Obama an advantage over others.

If you think about it, Facebook is a great place to target young voters. College students alone make up half of the Facebook audience (source). According to Facebook statistics found on their Web site, there are more than 120 million active users. This makes Facebook one of the most popular, if not the most popular, social media sites in the world. Putting all these young people together gives them opportunities to create groups and other grassroots projects in favor of their candidate. People can connect all over the world to support a single cause. 

Compared to 2004, about 2.2 million more people age 18 to 29-year-olds voted (source). Of these young people who voted, 66 percent preferred Obama and 32 percent favored McCain (source). Of course it’s the messages and ideals of each candidate that wooed the voters but Facebook definitely helped spread these messages as well as helped bring people together. Facebook might have also played a part in getting more people registered to vote.

As a Facebook user myself, I was reminded of deadlines to vote. I received group invitations regarding the elections, and I was sent event invitations to remind me to vote. I’m one of those people who already knew who they were voting for, and I remembered to turn in my ballot in early. For those people who aren’t like me, they were definitely reminded on Facebook and given the opportunity to read plenty of information regarding each candidate and measure. I also saw who my friends were voting for in their information and status updates.

We have learned a lot in this election from the methods that the candidates used. One thing that we will continue to see in years to come is more involvement in social media and social networking. There is no going back now.

Facebook oh Facebook

Facebook Image

Facebook Image

It’s about time I wrote about Facebook. It is not only my favorite social networking Web site but it has a fertile ground for public relations work.

The other day I was watching television with some friends and we saw a cell phone commercial. The commercial’s main focus was that you could update your Facebook status from the product. One of my friends was bewildered that Facebook has become so mainstream, enough so that companies are creating phones to better ease your Facebook use. It’s crazy. Facebook is everywhere.

In general, companies and nonprofit organizations are putting their names on Facebook to connect to their audience. They create groups and fan pages for Facebookers to become involved in. By doing this, the companies can get feedback from consumers as well as spread their name or message.

There are a few issues I’ve heard about regarding Facebook and public relations. First of all, people who use Facebook want to keep their page personal, to use only with friends. In this New York Times article it discusses the fact that people want to keep their Facebook as a place to share with friends, not to build their business or share connections — like LinkedIn. The article also talks about Orkut, a social networking Web site made by Google. In Orkut, friends can be separated into groups (e.g. professionals, friends, family), making it much easier for people to separate their personal lives from their work lives. Perhaps Facebook should take this route. But then again, it might not be Facebook anymore.

Along with this same idea, people do not want companies to be protruding into their private lives. I know from experience. I’ve joined a few company’s groups and my goodness, it was a mistake! One group in particular would send me six or seven messages a day. My inbox would always have something in it and it was so frustrating. I would never read these messages. Instead, I’d immediately delete them. Tip for businesses using Facebook: Do not bombard people with your messages. Rather then getting your information out, you are irritating people and losing people’s interest in your company.

However, it’s not all bad! There are some good PR tactics I’ve discovered on Facebook. Maybe it’s just my personal opinion, but I really like free gifts. I’ve noticed that a lot of companies use free gifts to promote an event or a movie that is coming out, and I think that is such a good idea! First of all, people like free things. Most gifts on Facebook cost money. Second, if the gift looks appealing, people will send it around. This means that more people will see your message or brand. People on Facebook are connected to people all across the globe! I could send a gift to someone in Africa, and they’d see it. Genius!

Another great PR tactic on Facebook is using event invitations. For example, Ben and Jerry’s sent out an invitation to their free ice cream day event yesterday. I would have not known about this event if it wasn’t for this Facebook invitation, and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of some delicious ice cream! Companies can use these event invitations for any type of events that they are going to launch. But like the inbox message story I talked about earlier, it has some complications. Don’t overuse this tool! People will begin to ignore your invites, making the message worthless. Only send invites to people who are in your specific target audience and only for events that are newsworthy. I always love getting free stuff!

I’m sure there are many more things that Facebook is good for (relating to public relations) but those are the two tools that stick in my mind. Can you think of any others?

Below is a phone commercial that specifically talks about Facebook. Enjoy!