Category Archives: Facebook

From Abraham Zapruder to Diamond Reynolds – Cameras in public life sensitize us

It’s just three months since Facebook Live became a feature that anyone could use. But it took another accidental ‘reporter’ named Diamond Reynolds to put it to use in a way no one ever envisaged.

This came some 52 years after another accidental reporter named Abraham Zapruder captured sniper bullets hitting President John. F. Kennedy in Dallas.

That was a time when cameras were scarce, and there was no such thing as a live citizen journalist broadcast. Now cameras (and all manner of recording devices) are so ubiquitous, we’ve almost come to expect to see the raw footage or listen to soundtracks of terrible events. Technology has given us a way to piece together events. The hope is that events seen through multiple camera angles might help us NOT rush to judgement.

Facebook Live allows 90 minutes of video. Zapruder took just 26.6 seconds of footage.


Tags: , , , ,

Facebook Fatigue builds up

I feel a bit better now that I watched the spoof about Facebook Life Filters.

A few weeks prior, I had submitted my cover story, Time to Exit Facebook and expected to uppset a few FB die hards. The article was published this month in LMD Magazine. I had pointed to some of my favorite annoyances –a few of which are brilliantly covered in the spoof!  These are the most annoying categories of users that drive us away:

The Graffiti Artist – The person who incessantly posts anything and everything he or she sees, thinks or does, because it makes him or her feel like a citizen journalist.

The ‘PDA’ Junkie – Someone who indulges in Public Displays of Affection (known in the pre-Facebook era as a ‘PDA’). This person thanks a sibling, or wishes a spouse in purple prose, an act that can surely be done with more class… in private.

The Random Shooter – Have smart camera-phone, will shoot anything: expensive cars, cumulus clouds from windows of aeroplanes, birthday cakes, children, hotel rooms…

The Poser – Someone who leaves smart comments, regularly updates his or her profile picture and delights in posing in selfies.

You could read the full article here.



The urge to exit Facebook

I’ve begun running into people in the past few months who are wrestling with the idea of cancelling their Facebook accounts.

Are you one of them?

It’s been some seven years since I signed up, and I have to admit it almost feels like I have to hold my nose when I login, now and then. Now and them, meaning a few times a week -down from a few times a day some years back. Hence that post a few weeks back when I wondered if the social network, was more of a faux community.

There seems to be a bigger picture emerging.

As one person I interviewed noted, the land grab to just be seen on Facebook, and that “me-first’ mentality has worn thin. There is too much chest-thumping, too much ‘thought burps’ for some to want to be part of it.

I like to hear what you think of all this, and how you use or ignore. I don’t want to know the obvious: that it’s easy to find long-lost high school friends, and how it makes you feel connected. There are dozens of ways we could do that now.

I like to know:

  1. Have you changed your Facebook activity?
  2. What makes you wince at what people say/post?
  3. Are you using Facebook in some other interesting way?
  4. Are you (or someone you know) contemplating heading for the exits?
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Facebook, Social Media


Tags: , ,

Is Facebook a faux community?

Over the Christmas break I’ve had a lot of time to think through some of the social behaviors we accept, and quietly incorporate. Sometimes these are things we once scorned, and never thought possible in our lifetime.

Things like doing a Google search while driving; posting pictures the very second we experience an event (basically experiencing an important moment in our life through a screen, first); checking the status of things that once didn’t matter to us before (“What’s the temperature in DC today?”; What does Times Square on 31st night look like on Facebook –since the TV networks do such a sloppy job of it now).

You get the picture…

My wife and I have also contracted a curious digital illness, FAS. Call it the Facebook Avoidance Syndrome. We don’t check in on a daily basis because it means inviting a lot of useless information into our lives, and worse, making what someone posts the main topic of discussion, rather than real issues near us, and around us. I must admit, these are interesting sidebars, but do we really want to be informed how deep the snow is, or the ingredients of one’s holiday cookies? Is this community?

  • Yesterday our neighbor stopped my wife and wanted to tell us they were moving. “I didn’t want to leave a note on your door to tell you this, he admitted.”
  • Friends dropped in a few days ago to check how I was going. No status updates were required in this old-fashioned practice.
  • While we’ve been more-or-less off the FB grid, the phone has been off the hook

I felt the need to post a short message on Facebook the other day to say this: Going forward in 2014, I would further reduce my Facebook activity. I said I won’t be breathlessly posting the food I consume or the anniversaries I celebrate.

What “activity?” you ask 🙂 I hardly add content to the Zuckerberg machine. I don’t subscribe to birthday apps, and the likes. But the point was that, if folks needed to reach me, or keep me informed of things, I didn’t want them to assume I knew, just because it was on Facebook.

Many hard-core Facebookers –and I know plenty, have interviewed many– can’t imagine life without it. Some have begun to feel like this is the only way to stay in touch with community. Granted, we have all used Facebook or LinkedIn to discover people from our past, analog communities. They feel as if there is no other way to trade empathy.

I beg to disagree. If all you had is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

One of my friends asked me “What this means in a Chat Republic?”

I EXPECTED THIS.  My book dealt a lot about online and virtual communities, so I knew this question would come. I’m sure some of you are shocked I would even take this attitude. If you are, all I could say is re-read the  book’s introduction – “Why don’t we chat?” (If you don’t want to get the book, or borrow it from the library, I’d be happy to send you the chapter.)

Another asked me, why make a public announcement of this? Public announcement? I thought most people assumed our posts were just between friends. Maybe some realize that Facebook goads us into self-publicity, even while giving us the sense that we are engaging in private conversations. Indeed, Facebook’s public-private divide is confusing.

Digital Social networks were intended for communities. Humans weren’t built for the networks. Simply sharing whatever crosses our path –or our camera view finder– does not enrich our community involvement. Over-sharing is indeed a disease. It’s sometimes nice to be in the presence of a community where no one is taking pictures and setting others up for a Facebook post. (Sigh!: It’s an adjustment for me. There are places I go to now, where I don’t carry my SLR, and never, ever use my camera phone.)

It’s nice to avoid faux communities, and be in the presence of real communities.


1. There’s an interesting Carnegie Mellon University study if you are interested, about this very confusion, and how the many changes in Facebook’s privacy policy first reduced how much personal info people shared, and then how it began to rise. 

2. You may actually not see a link to this on Facebook. I don’t intend to post it there. The link between this blog and FB have been disconnected. This blog is obviously a public medium. 

1 Comment

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Facebook, Social Media


Tags: , ,

Chat Apps could ignite true engagement

We know that Chat Apps are driving a lot of mobile service providers to rethink their once-lucrative profit center. But these apps are also disrupting traditional social networks, because providers know how important it is to keep the user engaged within the channel.

Consider our fragmented mobile experience. We toggle between Email, Facebook, Twitter (or Hootsuite), and SMS. They each have their distinctive experience. Status updates and informative mails are not the same thing; content sharing on a social network, with the ability to garner a small ‘mob’ around a cause or a pet peeve is not the same as firing off a text message to 20 people. International texts are expensive so we may tweet a message instead…

I’ve been intrigued by these so-called ‘conversations’ online, especially since many of them are not always in real-time. They are really partial dialogues, with one word (or one button) responses that are a proxy for people joining in.

That why we need to keep an eye on where Chat Apps are headed. They are simple –as in distraction free– formats that could garner true engagement.

At a recent event, I was asked where I though our social media lifestyles would be headed. My pat answer was that we might see a lot of social media fatigue. The media overload we are all facing might mean vast numbers of us will be quitting those social media channels that just don’t fit our personality. But that’s not to say that we will retreat to our caves, and get back to notebooks and pencils, or phone calls. We will seek out those experiences that help us stay connected. And that’s where I see Chat Apps gaining ground.

THE NEXT WhatsApp or Viber (the free phone app combines the chat feature– free even with people in other countries) could threaten Facebook and Twitter. It could combine elements of email and micro-blogging, so that we may never need to go to the other platforms to see what our friends are saying, and to chime in.

Multiple language chats. I fielded this question to a panel of international students at Scottsdale Community College last week:

  • How many of them spoke more than one language. All hands were up
  • How many spoke three languages. Eighty percent of the hands remained up
  • More than three? About fifty percent

What would happen if we could chat with people in different countries, in different languages, using the same app? Already WeChat, which is apparently a lot like Line, an app not known to many in the West, lets one do this.

Maybe ChatApps are where we may find the genie of true engagement. I admit I may be somewhat biased, because of the title of my recent book.

What do you think? Does social media fatigue drive you to give up on certain channels?


Tags: , , , , ,

Brand Voices vs Brand Conversations

It’s easy to confuse the power of voice, when discussing ‘brand voice.’

(Don’t bother Gogling it, as there are some 441 million results, some of it with the predictable talk about signage etc.)

The Voice of the Brand belongs to two groups, depending on whom you speak to:

(a) The people who define the brand, and “know” what it stands for, and articulate it in their channels. This is really what I would call Brand Talk. Sometimes I cynically call it Bland Talk.

(b) The folks to buy it or use it, and talk it up in their own communities, and sometimes on the brand-owned channels. These are, arguably, more authentic Brand Voices. They tell you why people are using the product or paying attention.

But let’s cut through all this and look at brand conversations, to figure out what are the most valuable conversations? These are what social media helps us unearth: those incomplete, poorly phrased sentences, the angst-ridden, or cult-like exchanges in a forum, or comments section. Those self-appointed ambassadors and know-it-alls…

Sadly, brand managers are not always up to snuff on handling the latter; this sort of anarchy; of data-mining conversations; of engaging with those the bosses instinctively want to block or ban those outside voices from the website.

ONE OF THE FEW AD-MEN who bucks the trend and critiques one-way Brand Talk, calls for true brand conversations.

Nimal Gunewardena, CEO of Bates Strategic Alliance, happens to be moderating a round table discussion I will be part of, when I launch my book, Chat Republic, in Sri Lanka in a few weeks.

His screed about Brand Conversations, called for an abandonment of ‘sales talk’ and the 30-second-commercial mindset. It seemed akin to 1st century monks arguing against using calligraphy.

“It’s time to start thinking beyond that 30 second commercial. It’s time to combine the power of TV with the connectivity and engagement power of digital and social media. It’s time to explore new formats. Two-way conversations, rather than one-way broadcasts. It’s time to talk to communities who have common interests.

To which one person commented:

“oh how our vocabularies have changed recently! We are all part of a social media revolution and it’s simply not possible to have our heads deep in the sand any more.”

It’s so easy to provide knee-jerk responses to the role of conversations: To engage, to discuss, to share etc. I try to pry these apart in Chat Republic, and encourage readers to think of conversations as the ‘operating system’ for their community (OK, maybe the brand) they manage.

We cannot bury our brand-saturated heads in the bland.


Tags: , , ,

Healthcare, now a social, not private affair!

Time was when someone would keep his/her healthcare concerns under the hood, so to speak. A health complication would be kept within the family; the unwritten doctor-patient privacy act was upheld.

Now? We seem to be ready to blab more about it. or, to put it another way, patients are more than ready to take to social media to discuss health-related issues in the open. Some examples

This latest report by PwC recognizes this, and gives you a more granular look at how the private concerns of those seeking healthcare have become closely intertwined with their social media behavior.

For example:

  • Nearly a quarter of people in the US (24%) post something about their healthcare experience.
  • 16 % share health-related videos and images!

It gets more interesting, in the face of concerns about invasion of privacy and health information.

  • Some 30% of people are willing to share their health-elated information with other patients, using social channels.
  • Also, 80% of 18-24 year-olds are likely to share health information through social media. 80 percent! You could find out more here at the PwC site.

This ought to have huge implications for healthcare companies, and even medical practitioners who have been concerned that their connecting with patients could run afoul with health information privacy, or HIPAA, laws. Physicians have been behind the curve. Sermo, their online community, has just 130,000 users, but one study found that while 87% of physicians use at least one social media site at a personal level, only 67% are using at least one site for professional reasons.


Tags: , , , , , ,